A total number of 14 airlines have shut down operations in the country due to low patronage that resulted from the economic recession.
The airlines, including Iberia, United Airlines and Air Gambia, are among the 50 that operated the Nigerian routes some of the few months ago.
BRANDCAMPAIGN gathered that foreign airlines operating in the country are estimated to have lost about N64 billion in the midst of the new foreign exchange (forex) policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
According to the President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bankole Bernard, the new forex policy and economic crunch unleashed negative effect on travel agencies, which made the airlines to exit the the country.
Bernard had, during the recent Aviation Round Table (ART) breakfast meeting said that travel agencies that sold about $1.4 billion worth of air tickets in 2015 were beginning to record losses with the departure of the airlines, adding that there was fear that more airlines might quit flying the Nigerian routes.
In an attempt to still stay in business, Bernard maintained that some of his members were beginning to consider relocating to Ghana, where “their policies are consistent.”
Bernard said that the alleged inconsistent policy of the current administration, particularly on the naira devaluation, accounted for the current “nightmarish” experience the airlines are facing.
The loss of N64b by the foreign airlines was on account of repatriating $800 million stuck in the economy in the last one year, but released after the recent devaluation of the naira.
Aviation industry stakeholders are blaming the situation in the sector on what they termed the unfortunate effect of the new policy, which is affecting all foreign airlines that had funds sitting in the Nigerian banks.
It would be recalled that the current administration last year introduced a fiscal policy through the CBN, restricting access to foreign exchange and funds transfer out of the country which resulted to the strangulation of no less than $600 million which belonged to foreign airlines operating n Nigeria. The association appealed to government to ensure the immediate release of such funds.
BRANDCAMPAIGN gathered that both Delta and United Airlines have up to $180 million hanging in the Nigerian economy, while Air France-KLM is estimated to have over $150 million. British Airways has about $100 million as at March 2016, while Iberia, which had already withdrawn its services, has $5 million of its funds hooked.