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Venezuela and Nigeria blocking US$4.4 billion

DUBLIN: June 02, 2016. IATA has called on five governments to ensure airlines are able to repatriate their revenues.The association said blocked funds now exceeds US$5 billion worldwide and the top two offenders are Venezuela and Nigeria.

IATA said US$3.8 billion has accumulated in Venezuela following the implementation of currency controls in 2003. By 2013 government approvals were not keeping pace with the amount of funds requiring repatriation and by 2015 the situation had become critical when only one request was approved. This year only one request has been granted said IATA.

Top five repatriation"Air connectivity is vital to all economies. The airline industry is a competitive business operating on thin margins. So the efficient repatriation of revenues is critical for airlines to be able to play their role as a catalyst for economic activity. It is not reasonable to expect airlines to invest and operate in nations where they cannot efficiently collect payment for their services," declared Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.

Total airline funds blocked from repatriation in Nigeria are now nearing US$600 million. IATA said repatriation issues arose in the second half of 2015 when demand for foreign currency in the country outpaced supply and the country’s banks were not able to service currency repatriations.

"Blocked funds are a problem in a diverse group of countries, some of them undergoing significant economic challenges particularly with a fall-off in oil revenues. But one thing all five nations have in common is the urgent need for robust air connectivity that is being hampered by airlines’ difficulty in repatriating funds.

“Strong connectivity is an economic enabler and generates considerable economic and social benefits--something that struggling economies need more than ever. It is in everybody’s interest to ensure that airlines are paid on-time, at fair exchange rates and in full," Tyler added.

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