US$1.7 billion of airlines' cash blocked in Africa - IATA

A total of $1.68 billion of airlines’ funds are blocked across Africa A total of $1.68 billion of airlines’ funds are blocked across Africa

A total of $1.68 billion of airlines’ funds are blocked across Africa out of $2.36 billion globally, the latest International Air Transport Association’s data has shown.

Addressing the 55th AFRAA AGM held in Entebbe, Uganda on November 18, 2023, Kamil Alawadhi, the Regional Vice-President Africa and Middle East, International Air Transport Association (IATA), noted that the numbers are alarming and the impact of this on connectivity is devastating.

“Aviation is capital-intensive. Cash flow is key for airlines’ business sustainability – when airlines are not able to repatriate their funds, it severely impacts their operations and their decisions on where to fly. But the risk of blocked funds is not just limited to airlines; the negative impact extends to the countries blocking the funds.”

“It impacts the country’s economy and its connectivity, and it hurts investor confidence and reputation. Aviation is not only an economic enabler; it is a pillar of modern economies.”

He urged African governments to prioritize aviation and find sustainable solutions in the clearing of blocked funds, adding that IATA will continue to offer its support in any way it can.

Blocked funds in Nigeria, for instance, is the reason the West African country’s airfares have remained elevated since airlines have had to adjust prices up for sales made outside the country in order to stay in business and remain competitive.

About US$1billion is tied up in 12 African countries. Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Algeria, and Eritrea are some of the worst offenders.

In Ghana, given the cordial working relationship between the Government of Ghana and airlines, there has not been a disruption in the operations of international airlines servicing the Kotoka International Airport, unlike in neighbouring Nigeria where some international airlines have served notice of cutting down frequency—the number of times they operate to and from the West Africa country—due to the continuous blockade of airline funds.

Cathrine Wesley, Country Manager of Emirates Airlines noted in a previous interview with AviationGhana that: “We have an excellent relationship with the Ghana Government. We have an excellent relationship with the Ministry of Transport, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [ in the movement of funds]. For Emirates Ghana, we are extremely fortunate to have the relationship that we have with the Ghana government and we don’t have any of those issues [blocked airline funds].”

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