THERE is looming danger in Nigerian airspace as airlines are groaning under a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) dollar restriction policy that is making it difficult to transact businesses and meet their costs.
Aviation in Nigeria is dollar intensive as every cost is charged in dollar from maintenance of aircraft, buying of aircraft spares to training of human capital however, ticket prices are in Naira which has currently slumped against the dollar.
According to airlines, Nigeria’s central bank has made it impossible through its new policy for airlines to buy and remit dollars to pay for leases, aircraft spares, flight crew trading and sundry.
Banks have been stopped by CBN from remitting USD for airlines as same airlines are now left with no means to transfer necessary cash to fund their spare parts, leases rentals, flight crew training and sundry.
Beside aviation fuel which is imported and sold to airlines in naira, everything that aircraft uses is sourced abroad and requiring foreign exchange.
Unfortunately, the CBN has stopped all banks from receiving foreign exchange lodging and remitting same for their leases, spare parts to keep their planes in top shape, send their flight crew abroad for normal recurrency training.
Speaking to some airlines, who wish to remain anonymous they express shocked that the CBN, instead come to the aid of airlines in this pandemic, not only failed to do so, but now stopped all foreign currency transactions for the airlines.
The airlines wonder what the CBN aims to achieve, knowing full well that safety of air travel depends heavily on forex.
“It’s a dangerous trend; if anything happens to one aircraft, human or cargo, the CBN will be seated at the chair table of the accident chains.
“May Gods or Government save the day before we start losing our airlines or people to avoidable accidents,” the operator lamented.
Apart from the dollar restrictions, the ₦5billion bailout supposedly canvassed to aid airlines cushion the effect of the covid-19 is yet to be given as airlines continue to struggle with the myriads of challenges brought by the pandemic.