President Bola Tinubu with his Arab Emirates (UAE) counterpart, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Monday in Abu Dhabi

FG directs CBN to settle foreign airlines’ $800m backlog

President Bola Tinubu with his Arab Emirates (UAE) counterpart, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Monday in Abu Dhabi

President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to create a platform for quarterly reconciliatory meetings with foreign airlines to address the backlog of trapped funds in excess of $800 million.

Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, disclosed this in Abuja at the ongoing African Aviation Summit.

He noted that the development was one of the reasons President Tinubu travelled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to address.

He expressed his displeasure with the trapped funds of foreign airlines in Nigeria Before the Minister’s directive, foreign airlines had found it difficult to get their funds due to Nigeria’s foreign exchange (forex) policy.

He also unveiled three roadmap projects, which include aerotropolis, aircraft leasing Company, ALC, and Maintenance Repair and Overhaul, MRO, facility, as well as five focus areas to realise the country’s vision of becoming an aviation hub in Africa.

The key areas listed include infrastructure upgrade, ALC, MRO facility and forex availability.

Keyamo said: “The recent global events further exposed the immense contribution and importance of air transportation as a catalyst for economic development, vital engine of global socio-economic growth, one of the greatest contributors to the advancement of modern society and a key instrument for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.

“These underscore why the world was greatly impacted when international aviation was disrupted by the pandemic and other global occurrences. It is the vision of this current administration to make Nigeria the aviation hub of Africa.

“Government welcomes major players in aircraft leasing and head lessors to invest in Nigeria airlines to provide state of the art aircraft.

 “The government will ensure the enforcement of contract agreements and the rights of investors and indeed all parties are protected and Nigeria being a signatory to the Cape Town Convention will uphold international obligations.

“This administration is committed to ensuring that forex is readily available to entrepreneurs, thus the president has directed that the CBN holds quarterly reconciliation meetings, with a view to resolving this issue.

“CBN is open to providing tax holidays to encourage existing and new entrants into the Nigerian aviation sector. I wish to reiterate that my administration, will continue to sustain the support being given to the industry.

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