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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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Air Peace to Launch Direct Flights to London, Sets March 30 for Inaugural Journey

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Nigeria’s leading airline, Air Peace, has unveiled plans to commence direct flight operations to London, with the inaugural flight scheduled for March 30, 2024.

The announcement came during a prelaunch forum organized by the airline, engaging travel agencies and partners involved in the upcoming London flight operations.

The Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Oluwatoyin Olajide, assured stakeholders that the London operations would be daily and conducted with Boeing 777 aircraft and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, known for their modernity and efficiency.

Olajide emphasized the direct, non-stop nature of the flights, without layovers, and the airline’s commitment to providing unbeatable fares.

Air Peace Chairman, Allen Onyema, disclosed that the airline had received approval from the Federal Government, facilitated by the Federal Ministry of Aviation, for flights to New York, USA.

Onyema also declared a unified commission for all airline agents, regardless of size or status.

With commendations from industry leaders and associations for Air Peace’s nationalistic drive and dedication to the country, the airline is poised to connect Nigeria with London and further enhance its international presence.

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Nigeria to Implement Biometric Clearance Gates at International Airports by March 2024

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Nigeria is gearing up to introduce a significant upgrade to its airport security measures with the implementation of biometric clearance gates at international airports by March 2024.

This move aims to streamline passenger processing and bolster national security efforts.

Under the plan, five major international airports across Nigeria, including the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Port Harcourt International Airport, and Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu, will be equipped with biometric clearance gates.

These gates will utilize advanced technology to provide seamless clearance services for passengers entering the country.

Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, emphasized that the installation of biometric gates reflects Nigeria’s commitment to enhancing border control management and adhering to global best practices.

The gates are expected to significantly reduce clearance times, with a passenger clearing in just 30 seconds.

Tunji-Ojo highlighted the gates’ dual purpose: expediting passenger processing while also enhancing national security by allowing for quick identification of persons of interest.

The initiative aligns with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, aiming to provide quality services to Nigerians while ensuring national security.

This modernization effort is poised to address long-standing issues of delays and improve the overall travel experience for passengers at Nigeria’s international airports.

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Foreign Embassies Given Two Weeks to Settle $5.36M in Ground Rents

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The Nigerian Government has issued a firm ultimatum to 43 foreign embassies and diplomatic houses in Abuja, the nation’s capital, demanding the settlement of outstanding ground rents totaling $5.36 million within two weeks.

In an official advertorial published by the Federal Capital Territory Administration in the Newspaper, the government emphasized the urgency of the matter.

Failure to comply within the stipulated period could result in the revocation of the rent titles held by the diplomatic entities.

The notice serves as a final warning to embassies, including prominent ones like the British High Commission, South African High Commission, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, and the Embassy of Japan, among others.

These embassies and diplomatic entities have been identified as defaulters in the payment of their ground rents.

This directive underscores the Nigerian government’s commitment to ensuring compliance with legal obligations and financial commitments within its jurisdiction, regardless of the status of the entities involved.

The ultimatum is reminiscent of a similar notice issued last September to organizations in Abuja, emphasizing the importance of timely payment of annual rents.

The consequence of non-compliance, as stated in the notice, is the potential revocation of land titles.

The deadline creates a sense of urgency among the affected diplomatic missions, as failure to meet the payment deadline could lead to diplomatic tensions and logistical challenges for the embassies involved.

As the clock ticks, attention is focused on how these foreign embassies will respond to the Nigerian government’s ultimatum and whether they will meet the financial obligations within the stipulated timeframe.

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