Trapped funds: CBN to release another $150 million to international airlines

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has concluded plans to release another tranche of $120 million to international airlines whose stuck funds are yet to be cleared.

While the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele said on Monday that the bank will release $120 million of trapped funds owed to international airlines operating in the country, another source with one of the international carriers told Aviation Metric under a condition of anonymity said the country’s apex Bank was actually planning to release another $150 million to the carriers in a few days time.

The source disclosed that Emefiele in a meeting held with the carriers this weekend hinted that were working on the release of another $150 million.

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‘In a meeting, we held with the CBN Governor, he hinted that the apex Bank would release soon another $150 million to the airline. This is heart-warming”, the source said.

It is very unclear how much that is left to be cleared by the CBN. It is also unclear how much the funds have accrued since the CBN released $265 million remaining $200 million.

There are indications that the stuck funds may have accumulated since August 26th, 2022 when $265 million was released.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirmed in June that Nigeria has blocked $464 million in revenue from international airlines, warning that the decision will “damage the country down the road.”

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The move comes in light of the bank’s recent decision to release $265 million of trapped funds to airlines; $110 million immediately and the rest in 60 days, with the remaining amount set to be released on October 31.

The CBN had in August said, “We used our discretion to allocate $265 million to the foreign airlines – on that day, we allocated to IATA; $32 million through UBA. Qatar Airways; $22.8 million through Standard Chartered, Emirates; $19.6 million through Access Bank, British Airway; $5.5 million through GTB, Virgin Atlantic; $4.8 million through Zenith and others,” Emefiele revealed, stressing that the key to resolving the problem is for “countries to respect the Bilateral Aviation Services Agreement (BASA)”.

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To maintain its forex reserves and recuperate the local currency’s deteriorating value, the bank blocked nearly $464 million of foreign airline revenues, after a record drop in the Nigerian naira’s black market value.

Foreign airlines make up nearly 80% of Nigeria’s commercial aviation sector yields and permanent flight suspensions can further impact the country’s waning economy.

Wole Shadare