Forex Policy Casualty: United Airlines Joins Iberia, Pulls Out Of Nigeria In June
Barely 15 days after the Spanish Airline; Iberia stopped flying into Nigeria, United States carrier; United Airlines is also to stop operations into Nigeria in June.
The latest development will bring to two the number of foreign airlines that have been consumed by the Federal Government forex policy.
Recalled that Iberia said that it would stop operations in and out of Nigeria from May 12, 2016.
In a letter to its trade partners, the Regional Commercial Manager of the airline, Mr. Kola Olayinka, Iberia said it was a tough decision that had been taken by its head office following the wide acceptance received from passengers, especially those heading towards Spain and Latin America over the years.
The decision by United Airlines to stop flying into Nigeria its only route to Africa like its Spanish counterpart is due to the airline’s inability to repatriate to its home country money from tickets sold in that country.
The daily route from Houston to Lagos had underachieved for years but was kept alive because of its importance to Texas-based customers, United Continental Holdings Inc. said in a note to employees on Wednesday.
The airline hinted that its final flight in and out of the country will be June 30, after which Delta Air Lines Inc. will be the only major U.S. carrier flying to Africa.
The latest pull out be United Airlines came barely 24 hours after the international Air Transport Association(IATA) disclosed that as at March funds belonging to international airlines totaling about $577 million has been trapped at the Apex Bank ;the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN).
The Forex policy by the Federal Government was necessitated by the global fall in the oil prices.
The Regional Manager, South West Africa, Mr. Samson Fatokun made this known at press briefing during a- two-day IATA Conference in Abuja.
According to him, “The funds we are talking about does not belong to foreign airlines alone as it equally affects Nigerian carriers. As at today, Nigerian carriers are not able to assess dollars for procurement of spare parts and maintenance of their aircraft abroad among others. However, Nigeria remains the highest in the continent with blocked funds. But, the government has assured us that the controversy surrounding the funds would be resolved very soon and we believe them for that.”
He hinted that foreign airlines have been unable to repatriate the funds earned from the ticket sales in the country since October, 2015.
This ,he stated had caused lots of crisis in the airline sub-sector, and that this had lead to a situation where some airline had to threatened to suspend operations into the country while others were tinkering with option of reducing their personnel.
The IATA scribe stated that the airlines body in conjunction with international airlines were discussing with the Federal Government to ensure the release of the funds.
United Airline spokesman Jonathan Guerin confirmed the planned pull out.
According to him, “Repatriation has been a significant issue, as has been the downturn in the energy sector.”