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Over $700 Million Trapped as Foreign Airlines Accused FG of Blocking Repatriation

Foreign Airlines operators accused the Federal Government of blocking the repatriation of over $700 million from ticket sales

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Emirates Airlines

During a meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Foreign Airlines operators accused the Federal Government of blocking the repatriation of over $700 million from ticket sales.

In an interactive session on Monday, Samson Fatokun, who spoke on behalf of foreign airlines, stated that the government must obey the international laws and treaties governing the aviation sector. 

He noted that under the BASA principle, the Nigerian government has an obligation to support the airlines to repatriate their funds in the US dollar.

“As of today, after the CBN intervention of August 29, we have about $700 million in blocked funds. This is astronomically high and it is the highest in the world.

There is no country in the world that has that amount of blocked funds. Nigeria accounts for 32% of the trapped funds in the world.” he said.

Investors King recalled that Emirate Airlines had planned to stop operations in Nigeria over $85 million trapped funds until the intervention by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Similarly, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), had criticised the Nigerian Government for its failure to allow international airlines to repatriate their profits, warning that it may cause the country more damage.

In a statement on its official Twitter handle, IATA said it was “disappointed” that the Nigerian government did not heed its warnings to allow the timely repatriation of the funds.

Meanwhile, local operators who were at the meeting, however, disagreed with their foreign counterparts. 

Speaking on behalf of the local operators, the CEO of Airpeace, Allen Onyema said local operators are more patriotic and can perform better if given the opportunity. 

He noted that some countries like the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates are not reciprocating the bilateral agreement in the aviation sector. 

Furthermore, the founder of United Nigeria Airlines, Obiora Okonkwo noted that foreign airlines should use the Importer and Exporter I&E window to source for dollars instead of waiting for the CBN to give them dollars.

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Brain Drain is Really Brain Gain in Greece

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Brain Drain

By Dimitris Tsingos, Founder, Starttech Ventures

The tech talent shortage in Greece is often blamed on the so-called “brain drain”. But I see nothing wrong with software engineers from Greece moving to other countries and exploring opportunities there.

It is a necessary step for progress, development, and modernization, writes Dimitris Tsingos, Founder of Starttech Ventures, a Greek network of start-up companies.

The so-called brain drain has been observed in many countries, not just in countries in the Middle East and Africa but also in my country Greece. Hundreds of thousands of highly skilled young professionals have migrated after the financial crisis in search of better prospects in more developed economies.

The real problem lies in the unidirectional nature of the flow; many skilled workers leave, and fewer are coming to our countries to work in them.

Traditionally “brain drain” has been considered quite a significant problem. To put it simply, it is thought to be wrong. What if we looked at it from another perspective? Could this phenomenon bring something good? Could we talk about “brain gain” instead of “brain drain”?

Countries that have continuously experienced high economic growth, such as China and India, demonstrate that the mobility of a high-skilled workforce can play a decisive role in improving the home country’s economy. And on top of that, modernizing its society.

You see, many of them will finally return home. Others will stay there and act as ambassadors and ‘bridges’ between the home and the host nation. Also, many send money home to their families (called remittances). As the world bank states: “there is strong and unambiguous evidence that supports the argument that remittances alleviate poverty in developing countries.”

Many studies also show that diversity in the form of people from different walks of life, with different experiences and networks from other countries, helps companies grow faster and find new opportunities. Many of our companies witness that the diversity in their teams contributes immensely to the company’s creative output.

It is just a different point of view: The mobility of people is in many ways good for the world! When mobility increases, new opportunities will present themselves while old ones disappear.

At Starttech Ventures, we recognized the power of “brain gain” long ago. In our portfolio companies in Athens, we already employ individuals of more than twelve nationalities who, for various reasons, decided to move and work here. And we encourage people to see opportunities in other parts of the world. So, we would be happy for people from Greece to find work in start-ups in different countries and vice versa. That would make us learn more from each other and strengthen ties between our countries, helping both economies grow.

I firmly believe that there’s no reason for our countries not to be able to attract skilled workers that want to live and work in them. There are many fabulous places worldwide with a booming tech scene, and we should help more people worldwide know about the opportunities we provide. And we could work together to do that.

Thus, we are proud to announce the Work-in-Greece initiative, which aims to support the relocation of innovative Software Engineers that want to work in Greece. And, with that, build stronger ties and collaborations between companies in both countries to mutually benefit all societies!

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Immigration Service Orders Passport Offices to Work on Saturday

Passport offices to work on Saturdays across the country amid the surge in demand

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Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has directed passport offices across the country to work on Saturday amid the surge in demand for international passports. 

The directive which was contained in a statement released yesterday by the Public Relations Officer, Mr. Tony Akuneme, noted that the directive is aimed to enable the Service to reduce the backlog occasioned by the 2020 and 2021 prolonged lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The CG has directed that passport offices across the country with a high volume of pending applications to work on Saturdays. (However), the Saturdays preceding the Christmas and New Year holidays are exempted.

“The period for this exercise is expected to be every Saturday commencing from December 3, 2022, to January 28, 2023, between the period of 10 am and 2 pm,” the statement partly read.

Investors King understands that Nigerians have been going through a long queue while trying to acquire an international passport. In some cases, it could take as long as four to six months.

This long queue has created room for racketeering. A standard passport which normally costs N26,000 is being done at the rate of N50,000. It could be as high as N70,000 to N100,000 in some cities such as Abuja and Lagos.

According to the statement, the Controller-General of the immigration service has also approved the deployment of the Passport Controller in Ekiti to Jigawa, while the one in Ondo was moved to NIS Zonal Office in Ibadan.

The CG added that he will hold passport officers accountable for any acts of indiscipline by officers under their watch.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has cautioned Nigerians on the dangers of irregular migration, so as not to waste their future. 

The CG who gave the advice disclosed that the service will intensify its efforts to sensitize Nigerians on the danger of irregular migration.

He noted that most of the victims are being brainwashed by travel agents who only care about making money from such trips. 

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Passengers Groan as Air Tickets Increase by More than 100%

The price of Jet A1 which was N200 in December 2021 is currently sold at N800 per liter

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Arik Airplane - Investors King

Travelers have lamented the arbitrary increase in air tickets. The increase which has now caused one-way tickets from Abuja to Lagos to rise above N150,00 has been blamed on the scarcity of aviation fuel also known as Jet A1. 

The price of Jet A1 which was N200 in December 2021 is currently sold at N800 per liter. The increase is mostly due to scarcity and the rise in foreign exchange.

A check by Investors King on the booking pages of some domestic airlines shows that a one-way trip from Abuja to Lago on Air peace Airlines costs between 65,000 to 150,000 depending on the flight schedule. 

On Air peace, Lagos to Anambra on 23rd of December  2023, goes for N150,000.

Similarly, while a lot of near-date seats have been sold out on MaxAir, medium-distance date ranges between N65,000 to 80,000 nairas.

The same thing goes for Dana Airlines. A check on Dana Airlines shows between N66,000 to N85,000 from Abuja to Lagos on an economy ticket. 

According to some industry experts, other factors that are driving the price of air tickets include the demand that often comes with the yuletide period.

Looking at the available seats, it is obvious that many people had already booked seats ahead of the festive period. Additionally, the demand for air tickets was also driven by the political season. 

Investors King understands that campaign activities often drive the demand for air tickets as politicians and their supporters move from one state to the other. 

Furthermore, the Nigerian aviation industry is faced with high operating costs, taxes, and surcharges. 

Airlines also have to pay for landing costs and multiple aviation agencies’ charges among others. 

It will be recalled that in February 2022, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) pegged one-way ticket fares to a minimum of N50,000 amid the scarcity and sharp rise in the price of aviation fuel. 

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