Blocked airline funds down 28%

DUBAI, 4 June 2024: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported a 28% decrease in airline funds blocked from repatriation by governments. 

At the end of April, the total blocked funds stood at approximately USD1.8 billion, a reduction of USD708 million (28%) since December 2023.

However, IATA reiterated the call for governments to remove all barriers to airlines repatriating their revenues from ticket sales and other activities under international agreements and treaty obligations.

“The reduction in blocked funds is a positive development. The remaining $1.8 billion is significant and must be urgently addressed. The efficient repatriation of airline revenues is guaranteed in bilateral agreements. Even more importantly, it is a pre-requisite for airlines—who operate on thin margins — to be able to provide economically critical connectivity. No business can operate long-term without access to rightfully earned revenues,” said IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh.

The main driver of the reduction was a significant clearance of funds blocked in Nigeria. Egypt also approved the clearance of its significant accumulation of blocked funds. However, in both cases, airlines were adversely affected by the devaluation of the Egyptian Pound and the Nigerian Naira.

Progress in Nigeria

At its peak in June 2023, Nigeria’s blocked funds amounted to USD850 million, significantly affecting airline operations and finances. Carriers faced difficulties in repatriating revenues in US dollars, and the high volume of blocked funds led some airlines to reduce their operations and one carrier to temporarily cease operations to Nigeria, which severely impacted the country’s aviation industry. However, as of April 2024, 98% of these funds have been cleared. The remaining $19 million is due to the Central Bank’s ongoing verification of outstanding forward claims filed by the commercial banks.

“We commend the new Nigerian government and the Central Bank of Nigeria for their efforts to resolve this issue. Individual Nigerians and the economy will all benefit from reliable air connectivity, for which access to revenues is critical. We are on the right path and urge the government to clear the residual USD19 million and continue prioritising aviation,” said Walsh.

Eight countries are responsible for 87% of blocked funds.

Eight countries account for 87% of the total blocked funds, amounting to $1.6 billion.

Pakistan and Bangladesh

The situation has become severe in Pakistan and Bangladesh with airlines unable to repatriate USD731 million (USD411 million in Pakistan and USD320 million in Bangladesh) of revenues earned in these markets.

“Pakistan and Bangladesh must release the USD731 million in blocked funds immediately to ensure airlines can continue providing essential air connectivity. In Bangladesh, the solution is in the hands of the Central Bank, which must prioritise aviation’s access to foreign exchange in line with international treaty obligations. The solution in Pakistan is finding efficient alternatives to the system of audit and tax exemption certificates, which cause long processing delays,” said Walsh.


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