The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika has reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian government to bilateral air service agreements during a meeting with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and foreign airline operators. The discussion, held in Abuja, centred on issues affecting the organisations and the country.
Sirika expressed concern over the problem of blocked funds and assured the delegation that the aviation ministry was working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. However, he explained that the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the Central Bank of Nigeria and cannot be handled by the ministry alone.
The minister also appealed to the international airline operators to be understanding, given the challenges of COVID-19 and the recession that Nigeria has been facing.
The IATA delegation, led by the area manager for West and Central Africa, Dr. Samson Fatokun, thanked the minister for his continuous support for the growth of air transport in Nigeria and appealed for his intervention in resolving the blocked funds issue. The delegation argued that the airlines are facing collateral damage, while the average Nigerian is bearing the brunt.
The president of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Susan Akporiaye added that the situation has already forced some agencies to leave the industry and pursue other businesses – a situation which could worsen unemployment in the country.