A dozen African states are holding back money generated by international airlines serving the countries, prohibiting the repatriation of the funds. Biggest offender is Nigeria, which is blocking roughly US$450 million from ticket sales, cargo transports, MRO services, and other activities, the International Air Transport Association criticizes. The organization demands immediate repayment to the owners of the funds.
Is Africa becoming the new Venezuela? In the South American country, the corrupt Maduro regime has withheld funds from airlines over years, preventing them from being returned to their rightful
owners. Most affected were U.S. and European carriers operating flights to Caracas or Maracaibo. Today, some of them are still fighting for the repayment of their money by the state.
Nigeria is the biggest debtor
Something similar is now happening in Africa. According to IATA, a dozen states failed to repatriate roughly one billion USD of airline revenues generated and now trapped in the countries. While some of the debtors withhold rather modest amounts of money, 5 nations stand out negatively, accounting for USD800 million, with Nigeria being responsible for the lion’s share of this sum.
Cash cow air industry
At the same time, Kamil Al-Awadhi, IATA regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, criticizes the West African country's extremely high tariffs for the transport of passengers and cargo, which are artificially inflated by taxes and charges for all kinds of services. In this way, the government is enriching itself from the entire air industry, the IATA official holds. He urged the government to change its aviation policy or else Nigeria’s economy will be damaged. “It will become too expensive for people to travel in and out of Nigeria, and for cargo airlines serving the country.” Nigeria risks a collapse of the entire aviation system should nothing be changed, the official warned.
Single Air Transport Market is still in its infancy
Further to this, he urged governments to fast enhance intra-African air connectivity. In a joint effort, politicians and the industry must prioritize implementing parts of the Single African Air Transport Market. An urgent necessity because regional traffic is only recovering at a very slow pace. It stands on paper for a long time, but the plans are not being implemented or only inadequately because national egoisms keep torpedoing them.
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