Ireland-The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged on Thursday the governments of Venezuela, Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt and Angola not to block the repatriation of airlines’ revenues, by respecting international agreements.
“Air connectivity is vital to all economies. The airline industry is a competitive business operating on thin margins. So the efficient repatriation of revenues is critical for airlines to be able to play their role as a catalyst for economic activity,” said IATA’s Director General Tony Tyler in a statement, a copy of which was obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
“It is not reasonable to expect airlines to invest and operate in nations where they cannot efficiently collect payment for their services,” he said at the airline group’s annual meeting in Dublin.
IATA said on Thursday that airline revenues worth $5 billion were currently being blocked by countries, with Venezuela and Nigeria the biggest culprits. Sudan, Egypt and Angola are also blocking the repatriation of airlines’ revenues.
“Airline funds blocked from repatriation in Venezuela total $3.8 billion. Currency controls implemented in 2003 necessitate government approval to repatriate funds. By 2013, approvals were not keeping pace with the amount of funds requiring repatriation and significant airline revenue accumulated in Venezuela,” it said.
“The situation became critical in 2015 when only one request to repatriate funds was approved. So far in 2016 only one request to repatriate funds has been granted,” said the statement.
As for Nigeria, the total airline funds blocked from repatriation are nearing $600 million, said IATA.
“Repatriation issues arose in the second half of 2015 when demand for foreign currency in the country outpaced supply and the country’s banks were not able to service currency repatriations. Nigerian authorities are engaged with the airlines and are, together with the industry, seeking possible measures to make the funds available,” it added.