Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation

Foreign airlines’ trapped funds in Nigeria hit $744m, as FG mulls helicopter landing charges


Global civil aviation regulators, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has disclosed that trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines operating in Nigeria have risen by 12.39 percent to $743,721,097 in January 2023 from $662m in the corresponding period last year.

Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation

This is just as the Federal Government says it is planning to introduce landing fees for helicopter shuttle operators in the country in order to raise revenue.

IATA which disclosed of the increase in foreign airlines’ trapped funds, in a letter addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and signed by the Area Manager West and Central Africa, Dr Samson Fatokun in Abuja, also urged the minister to intervene and ensure the resolution of the issue of airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria.

“For over a year, Nigeria has been the country with the highest amount of airline-blocked funds in the world. Please find attached the comparative table of airlines’ blocked funds by country.

“Moreover, as of January 2023, airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria have increased to $743,721,092 from $662m in January 2022 and $549m in December 2022,” the letter read.

While highlighting the socio-economic impact of the airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria, Fatokun said the increasing backlog of blocked funds of international airlines will impact negatively, the foreign direct investment in the country at a moment the country was expecting investment in the concession of some of its major airports.

He also mentioned that the continued trapped funds violate the Bilateral Air Service Agreement.

Fatokun stated that to mitigate the current crisis, airlines were taking drastic steps like reducing the number of frequencies or the number of seats made available for sale in the Nigerian market.

According to him, these mitigation measures will reduce passenger and cargo access to the country.

“Going by the law of demand and supply, the reduction of airline inventories in the Nigerian market will lead to the ticket fare increase, which will further burden average Nigerians,” the letter continued.

Responding, Sirika, during in a meeting with the IATA team, foreign airlines and travel agents assured the foreign carriers that he would take the issue up with the Presidency and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Aviation has disclosed of plans to commence charging landing fees on operators of helicopter shuttles in the country as way of internally generating revenue.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who disclosed this at a ceremony to introduce the most recent class of trained Helicopter Monitoring Officers, said the Federal Government will start charging helicopter operators Nigerian airspace landing fees.

The event took place at the International Wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, in Rivers State. The minister, who was represented by the Director of Human Resources at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. Norris Anozie, while inaugurating the trainees before commissioning the helicopter monitoring facility at the airport, reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to enhancing the revenue collection of helicopter landing fees.

Responding, one of the newly trained Helicopter Monitoring Officers said that everywhere helicopters land or take off from in the country will be adequately monitored.

The Helicopter Monitoring Officers will be vested with the responsibility of collecting landing fees on behalf of the Federal Government.

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