Nigeria to Sanction Airlines Selling Airline Tickets in Foreign Currency | The Guardian Nigeria News

Nigeria said on Wednesday that airlines’ refusal to sell flight tickets in its local currency, the naira, violated its laws.

Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said airlines found guilty of such acts would be punished for selling foreign currency tickets.

“Refusing to sell tickets in Naira and blocking access to cheaper seats are violations of our local laws,” Sirika told reporters after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council of Government in Abuja.

“We will not allow it, all offenders will be punished.”

The minister’s statements come two weeks after airlines announced they were suspending flight operations to and from Nigeria.

In mid-August, Emirates Airline said it suspended flights to Nigeria over failure to collect debts it said were growing by more than $10 million a month.

READ ALSOEmirates suspends flights from Nigeria over $85m debt

The airline said its current debt to Nigeria stands at $85 million.

Emirates Airlines spokesperson Rula Tadros said in a statement that the company had explored “all avenues to address our current challenges in the repatriation of funds” after making “considerable efforts to engage in dialogue with the competent authorities”.

A week later, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced that it had released $265 million to airlines operating in the country to settle outstanding funds from ticket sales.

CBN spokesman Osita Nwanisobi said a breakdown of the figure indicates that $230 million was released as special foreign exchange intervention, while a further $35 million was released through the Retail SMIS auction.

READ ALSO: CBN releases $265 million to airlines for tickets in circulation

“With Friday’s release, operators and travelers are also expected to breathe a huge sigh of relief, as some airlines had threatened to withdraw their services in the face of undisbursed funds for ongoing ticket sales.” , Nwanisobi said.

Sirika assured on Wednesday that the CBN was working to ensure airline funds were not trapped.

“We are doing everything to make these airlines happy in Nigeria. We need their services; they need our market,” Sirika said.