- …..Lauds CBN Over Trapped Funds
- Yemisi Izuora
Emirates is considering restoration of its second daily frequency to Lagos which it suspended over $600 million of international airlines trapped in the country, added with recession that affected airline business in the country.
Emirates Regional Manager-West Africa Commercial Operations, Afzal Parambil at a media chat with journalists in Lagos said the carrier stopped its second flight to Lagos because of “operational reason”, adding that the carrier was in discussion with the Federal Government on the matter.
His words, “We stopped our second flight because of operational reasons. We are discussing with the new Minister to restoring the routes. Very soon, you will hear from us very soon on the matter.”
Aside that, the airline also stopped its Dubai-Abuja flight; thereby restricting itself to sole Lagos daily flight.
The announcement comes just a day after Emirates President, Tim Clark said the airline could reduce the frequency of flights to Africa or cut them altogether because of persistent financial challenges on a continent that has seen steep currency declines.
On airlines’ trapped funds, Parambili commended the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), saying the apex Bank has very well supported by clearing the backlog which he disclosed has been released.
In August, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released $425 million out of $600 million trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines that flies into the country.
The funds are accruing from ticket sales of foreign airlines which had since been repatriated to their home country.
For two years, the problem persisted due to paucity of foreign exchange.
IATA’s area manager, South West, Dr. Samson Fatokun who disclosed this at a press conference in Lagos recently said the balance $ 175 million was still awaited from the CBN.
There are indications that the government has cleared the backlog of funds same way Egypt did few months ago.
He backed the plan by the Federal Government to float a national airline, saying the model to be adopted depends on the sustainability of the proposed carrier.
“There are several models that a national carrier can follow, saying Emirates is an example of state owned carrier.”
On the plan to get a huge chunk of the Chinese market, Parambili said the airline plays a huge role of bringing and taking passengers from Nigeria and add value to the Nigerian economy. We want to promote Nigeria as an investment destination.”