Foreign Airlines Seek Fresh Forex Window

  • Want Bills To Agencies Settled In Naira

Foreign airlines operating in Nigeria are seeking a fresh window for stable foreign exchange rate to ease their operations, gathered. Besides, they said the new forex opening would help to stem the astronomical rise in prices of air ticket.

According to three of the major airlines that spoke with our correspondent, the airlines wanted a stable exchange rate for their carriers, stressing that the flexible exchange rate makes it difficult for them to determine exactly what to charge travellers.


Consequently, the clearing house for over 250 global airlines (the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has booked a meeting with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), this week. It was learnt that the plan to meet the banking watchdog was unveiled by IATA at a meeting it held with foreign airlines last week.

A top airline official who was at the meeting told our correspondent that aside that, the clearing house for global airlines would also discuss the issue of over $599 million of the airlines’ funds that are trapped in the country.

Meanwhile, the carriers have made their displeasure known in the payment of charges to Nigerian aviation agencies in foreign exchange.

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To discontinue the status quo, the foreign carriers stated “that all payments will henceforth be made in naira.”

The carriers complained that it is against the directives of CBN in dealing in local currency (naira) as stipulated by the CBN Act.

The operators, under the aegis of Airlines Operators Committee (AOC), had written letters to the Nigerian Civil Aviation (NCAA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to this effect.

The letters stated: “In view of the CBN directives on currency substitution and dollarisation of the Nigerian economy, we want to use this medium to advise you that all payments will henceforth be made in naira. “In accordance to Section 15 of the CBN Act, which provides that the unit of the currency in Nigeria shall be the naira and also Section 20 sub-section 1 of the act provides that the currency note issued by the bank shall tender in Nigeria at their face value for the payment of any amount and also section 20 sub-section 5 provides that the person who refuses to accept the naira as a means of payment is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine and also six months imprisonment.

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In the wisdom of compliance and very difficult peculiar situation in the country, we have no other choice but to make all payments in naira. “We hereby solicit for your understanding in this regard.” One of the foreign airlines’ Country Manager, said.

“The tickets we sell are in naira, but we are paying aviation charges in dollars. This is not supposed to be.” Also, the foreign airlines are clamouring for maintenance and overhauling of facilities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

In another letter to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, titled: “MMIA Infrastructural Deficiencies,” some categories of the facilities that needed instant attention were listed. These include category 1: Baggage belt, Air-conditioning at the airport, Apron Depression, Avio bridges (Jetties), AVSEC Manpower, Equipment and Management, Elevator and Escalator, FAAN and Airlines Service Level Agreement (User Lease Agreement). Items listed under category 2: airport medical facilities, car park for staff, single exit point at the departure hall.

Those under category 3 are ULD Storage facility and proliferation of kiosk at the departure. Not a few had taken a swipe at the much touted remodelling of many of the airport terminals at a staggering millions of dollars. The facilities are already crumbling few months after they were done, with many describing it as a ruse.

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But the concern remains that contract details of the airports remodelling project are shrouded in secrecy. Industry stakeholders insist that the refusal by the supervising Ministry to come clean with the total project cost is suspicious.

The former Assistant Scribe of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Alhaji Mohammed Tukur, said all the noise about remodelling airports across the country is a ruse, stressing that given the level of work done so far, it is difficult to ascertain that the best had been given in terms of quality.

“The renovation of airports is naturally a good initiative, but the work is not properly done. The poor quality of work done is the reason the whole thing is becoming an issue. The contractors must be called to order.

The Senate must take steps to probe the airport projects across the country.


Wole Shadare