Nigeria Tops Countries With Most Trapped Airline Funds in The World

Nigeria Tops Countries With Most Trapped Airline Funds in The World

  • Of the $2 billion trapped in global airline funds, Nigeria remains the most indebted, with $551 million
  • IATA reports that Nigeria owes half of Africa’s debt to foreign airlines globally
  • The body listed top countries with huge trapped funds due for repatriation, which include Pakistan, Bangladesh and others

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) stated on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, that the number of airline funds due for repatriation but blocked by governments has hit $394 million in the last six months.

The body noted that blocked funds now total nearly $2 billion globally and in more than 27 countries.

IATA, foreign airlines. Nigeria
Nigeria is most indebted country to airlines Credit: SOPA Images / Contributor
Source: Getty Images

Top countries with biggest trapped airline funds

The biggest five most indebted countries are Nigeria at $551 million, Pakistan at $225 million, Bangladesh at $208 million, Lebanon at $144 million and Algeria at $140 million.

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BusinessDay reports that IATA cited Nigeria’s $551 million debt, adding that funds repatriation issues came up in March 2020 when the demand for forex in Nigeria was high. Banks were unable to service currency repatriations.

Walsh said the Nigerian authorities engaged the airlines and are working to find ways to make the funds available.

Walsh cited Nigeria as an example of how the industry engagement with the government can work, adding that the meeting has led to the repatriation of $120 million of the trapped funds with a promise of a further release at the year’s end.

Daily Trust reports that the global airline body called on governments to remove restrictions on airlines repatriating their earnings from ticket sales and other activities following international agreements and treaty obligations.

Venezuela owes $3.8 billion

IATA also called on Venezuela to settle the $3.8 billion of airline funds blocked from repatriation since 2016, when the country last authorised funds for repatriation by the Venezuelan government.

Willie Walsh said in an email that stopping airlines from repatriating funds affects local economies, saying no business can survive if they cannot get paid, which also affects airlines.

Kingsley Nwokoma, a representative of the Association of Foreign Airlines in Nigeria, said that airlines sell tickets in minutes and seconds; hence the funds keep accumulating.

According to Nwokoma, the funds continue to grow every second as tickets are sold. He said Nigeria owes half of Africa’s debt to foreign airlines.

Nigeria is world’s most indebted country to foreign airlines as funds kept in CBN hit $600 million earlier reported that Nigeria may lose the patronage of foreign airlines as it becomes the worst indebted country to foreign airlines globally.

The raging controversy over funds trapped in the country may snowball into a stalemate as $600 million trapped in the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria has become the highest owed by any country in the world.

According to the Tribune, as of March 2022, the trapped fund was $285 million.


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