The leadership of the house of representatives has intervened to mediate the dispute between foreign and Nigerian airlines.
The meeting, presided over by Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, included representatives from the airlines, International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON), travel agencies, and other aviation industry stakeholders.
An agreement was reached at the meeting to find quick solutions to release the money owed to the airlines, according to a statement made by Lanre Lasisi, special adviser to Gbajabiamila on media and publicity.
According to Lasisi, AON made a compelling argument for the protection of Nigerian airlines’ interests abroad, particularly with regard to the issue of reciprocity in the proportion of flight slots allotted to Nigerian operators abroad to the large number enjoyed by foreign airlines in Nigeria.
“The meeting also discussed the disparity in ticket prices charged by the foreign airlines in Nigeria and other countries, with Nigerians paying higher even when the distance between Nigeria and the foreign country of destination is shorter when compared to the distance from other African countries,” the statement reads.
“The meeting, which also looked into the difficulty Nigerians face in accessing the portals of foreign airlines for flight bookings,
was later adjourned till Thursday, October 20 to get the input of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the ministry of foreign affairs on how to fast-track the release of the trapped funds.”
The need for all parties to commit to resolving the crisis by addressing the various issues raised, particularly with regard to international flight operations, was emphasized by Gbajabiamila.
The meeting is expected to reconvene on Thursday.
In August, IATA said foreign airlines’ funds trapped in Nigeria increased from $450 million in May to $464 million in July.
The CBN later released $265 million to airlines operating in the country to settle outstanding ticket sales.