Ethiopia blocks 75 million airlines funds 

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By Kaleyesus Bekele from Doha, Qatar

Mr. Kamil Alawadhi , IATA regional president for Africa and the Middle East

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed that the Ethiopian government has blocked 75 million USD international airlines funds.

This was disclosed at the IATA annual general assembly that is being held in Doha, Qatar. International airlines operating to Addis Ababa sell their air tickets in Ethiopia with local currency.  According to IATA, the central bank is unable to allocated adequate foreign for the airlines to repatriate their funds their respective countries. 

African countries have continued blocking international airlines’ funds for various reasons. 

At the 78th annual general assembly of IATA Kamil Alawadhi, IATA regional vice president Africa and Middle East disclosed that Nigeria, Zimbabwe,, Algeria, Eritrea and Ethiopia are the top five African countries that blocked airlines’ funds. As of May 2022, Nigeria has 450 million USD, Zimbabwe 100 million USD, Algeria 96 million USD, Eritrea 79 million USD and Ethiopia 75 million USD airlines blocked funds.

“This will affect air connectivity. Connectivity is precarious. The crisis has demonstrated that everybody suffers when aviation stops. A financially viable air transport sector supports jobs and must be a driving force for Africa and the Middle East economic recovery from COVID-19,” Alawadhi said.

According to IATA, as of April 2022 globally there is a total of 1.6 billion USD in funds blocked by 20 countries worldwide. Of the total amount 67 percent is blocked in Africa for a total of 1 billion tied up in 12 countries.

“A priority is releasing blocked funds,” Alawadhi said adding that he has been holding talks with African countries with blocked funds. “Some of these countries have shortages of foreign currency and they have other priorities like health. But Nigeria, a major oil exporting country, is holding 450 million USD airlines funds, 25 percent of the total blocked funds worldwide,” he said.

Alawadhi warned that international airlines may stop flying to Nigeria unless they get their cash out of that country and the air connectivity could collapse. “It could collapse and that will impact the economy seriously,” he said.

According to him, due to the blocked funds issue airlines operating to Nigeria are increasing their airfares significantly. “Today flying to fro Nigeria is very expensive and this affects the average flying Nigerians.”

In his recent tour in Africa, Kamil Alawadhi met and discussed the issue with African Finance ministers.

Hosted by Qatar Airways, the IATA annual general assembly and World Air Transport Summit is being held in Doha, Qatar.         

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