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Airline operator seeks guidelines on foreign exchange concession grant

By Wole Oyebade   |   19 October 2016   |   2:45 am

A domestic airline operator, Muneer Bankole, has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to release guidelines for the implementation of the foreign exchange (forex) concession granted to the aviation sector.

Bankole, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Med-View Airlines, commended the initiative though admitted that much of the concession details were still unknown to the commercial banks and airlines that are supposed to be beneficiaries.

It would be recalled that the CBN granted airline operators in the country a special foreign exchange (forex) concession regime to enable clearance of outstanding debts at inter-bank market rate.

The CBN, in a memo, listed airline operators along with sectors that deal with raw materials and machineries for manufacturing companies and agricultural chemicals as some of the beneficiaries of the intervention.

Bankole, while receiving the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification in Lagos yesterday, said that the forex intervention, if implemented, would upturn the fortunes of aviation sector.

He noted that the industry is 100 per cent dependent on foreign exchange and had been seriously affected by the spike and scarcity, especially in the area of fuel, maintenance and insurance.

According to him: “I heard of the concession just like you did. I pray it materialises. We expect the Federal Government, through the CBN, to start rolling out the guidelines because the commercial banks that I spoke with said there was nothing like that yet on their table. But we will wait for it.

“The currency is actually the backbone of airlines, as it is all over the world. It has to be dollar-denominated and the situation here has not helped the sector. We have cried out to the government to build an environment and a window in the Central Bank for the airlines to access, for relief. So, it is good that the intervention has been announced, but let them start implementation.”

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had also expressed optimism that with the intervention, foreign airlines who had earlier ceased operations in Nigeria would return in earnest.

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