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FX scarcity: Ticket proceeds of foreign carriers trapped

Foreign airlines operating in Nigeria are grumbling over their inability to repatriate proceeds from the sales of tickets in the last few months due to…

Foreign airlines operating in Nigeria are grumbling over their inability to repatriate proceeds from the sales of tickets in the last few months due to Foreign Exchange (FX) scarcity.
It was learnt that the carriers, numbering 25, have over $100m as tickets sales proceeds stuck in the country because they could not access foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to enable them return the monies to their respective head offices.
The foreign carriers namely British Airways, Emirates, Lufthanza, Iberia, Delta Airlines, among others, account for over 70 per cent of ticket sales in the Nigerian market.
Daily Trust learnt that due to the FX crisis, some airlines are threatening to reduce the number of flights into the country.    
The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) has called on government to soften forex restriction for these airlines in order to protect Nigerians working with them from losing their jobs. The union alleged that there are plans by foreign airlines operating into the country to sack over 2,000 Nigerian employees in order to cut costs and shrink operations.
A protest letter by NUATE to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, entitled, “Save Our Souls and Jobs of over Two Thousand Workers”, explained that the reason for the sack is that foreign airlines have their earnings locked in Nigeria.
The union in the letter signed by NUATE’s Acting General Secretary, Olayinka Abioye, said the development had greatly hindered the airlines’ abilities to transfer their earnings to their respective home countries to meet operational costs.
It urged the Federal Government to intervene and grant the foreign airlines concession to repatriate their proceeds to their home countries because according to them, the airlines are already devising underhand tactics inimical to safety and security and resorted to gradual reduction of services/operations which may not be in the interest of the country and her people.
However, opinions are divided over the development. While the workers, in the interest of security of their jobs, call for concession for the airlines, some industry experts said there should not be special treatment for the foreign airlines since the foreign exchange crisis equally affects the indigenous carriers.
An aviation expert, Capt. Dele Ore, said government should ignore the threat of the foreign airlines, saying he is against selective treatment of any airline. He however disagreed with the union over the call for concession for the foreign carriers.
He said, “I believe that they have been making excessive profits and repatriating the same to their various companies and countries. Government should just ignore them. I believe it will serve a good purpose for our government to say, ‘Now, this is the time you must defend your own’. This is the time you must promote your own. If they want to go out of this country, let them go out. They should not threaten us with laying off staff.”

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