Foreign Airlines Dispute CBN’s Claim of Forex Clearance, Assert Over $700 Million Still Trapped in Nigeria

The assertion by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that it has settled all outstanding backlog of forex claims has been challenged by foreign airlines operating at Nigerian airports. Despite the CBN’s announcement in January that it had finalized payments to all verified claims by foreign airlines, totaling an additional $64.44 million, foreign carriers argue that a significant portion of their ticket revenue, amounting to over $700 million, remains inaccessible within the country.

According to a report by LEADERSHIP, the CBN recently declared an additional $7 billion clearance, effectively eliminating a longstanding legacy burden. However, foreign airlines contend that this claim of legitimate FX clearance does not align with their experience, as a substantial sum of their funds remains unremitted.

Kingsley Nwokoma, President of the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN), expressed skepticism regarding the CBN’s assertions. In an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP, Nwokoma emphasized the need for transparency, asserting that if the CBN had genuinely cleared the backlog of FX owed to foreign airlines, they should provide evidence of payment.

Nwokoma pointed out discrepancies between the CBN’s claims and the ongoing challenges faced by foreign airlines, reiterating their complaint of being owed over $700 million. He urged the CBN to demonstrate transparency by disclosing the amounts paid to each sector, thus providing clarity on the status of outstanding forex claims.

The discrepancy between the CBN’s declaration and the persistent challenges faced by foreign airlines highlights the complexity of forex management in Nigeria’s aviation sector. As stakeholders continue to grapple with these issues, transparency and accountability remain paramount in resolving the impasse and restoring confidence in the forex clearance process.

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