The regime of crazy fares Nigerians have been subjected to by the foreign carriers operating in the country may soon be reviewed downwards as the federal government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria, has commenced part payment of over $800 million trapped funds of the airlines.
This came just as the information reaching this paper has indicated that though the settlement may have commenced, the outstanding debts are being paid at the old rates the tickets were sold, reports Nigerian Tribune.
Confirming this to our correspondent, the president of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agents (NANTA), Mrs Susan Akporiaye, who described the payment as a work in progress, said the government has begun the clearing of the backlog.
According to Akporiaye: “The clearing process is ongoing, the federal government never stopped, you know it’s like a case of when they have they clear when they don’t they hold on till the next time they have, and they clear.
“Saying that they have finished clearing the entire backlog is a no, it.has not.been cleared 100 percent but its an ongoing process but the good thing about it is that the trapped funds is being paid at the rates the tickets were issued at that time because now the rates are much higher, so this backlog that are accumulated is being paid at the rates the tickets were issued at that time.”
Nigeria’s minister of aviation and aerospace development, Mr Festus Keyamo, had at the weekend in Lagos announced that the government has commenced the payment of the backlog.
Keyamo, who assured the foreign airlines of the commitment of the President Tinubu-led government to ensure the trapped funds are paid, declared efforts to comply with the President’s directives on the payment were on top gear, remarked: “The process of clearing the money has started. The President gave a marching order to the CBN”.
Though some of the foreign airlines’ officials who spoke behind the scenes said almost 90 per cent of the backlog was yet to be paid, they expressed gratitude to the government for taking a step to address the issue, which they said had inflicted economic hardship on the cost of their operations.
The payment of the trapped funds may force the foreign carriers to fully bring back their low inventory fares, which they suspended as a way of protesting the failure of the government to tackle the issue.
Nigeria according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the clearing house for over 300 airlines across the globe, had described Nigeria as the highest indebted country.