DUBAI: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Tuesday urged Pakistan and Bangladesh to remove barriers to airlines repatriating ticket revenues after Nigeria released the vast majority of blocked funds.

According to the world trade body, Pakistan and Bangladesh collectively owe $731 million out of a global total of $1.8 billion in blocked airline funds.

Several countries have encountered difficulties repatriating funds due to falls in the value of their currencies, a lack of US dollars, or red tape.

“We are encouraging them to prioritise the airlines’ money because this is very important for their economic and also airline activities,” said Xie Xingquan, IATA’s regional vice-president for North Asia.

In Pakistan, the main problem is delays over requirements for airlines to submit audit and tax exemption certificates, he said. “In Bangladesh, I think the key issue is they just lack the US dollars for foreign currencies,” said Xie.

Nigeria has cleared 98 per cent of blocked funds which in June 2023 amounted to $850m, IATA said on Sunday.

Egypt also approved the clearance of its blocked funds, IATA said, which combined with Nigeria helped reduce the total backlog by some 28pc since December last year.

Lebanon, Ethiopia and Algeria are among the other countries that have yet to release funds owed to airlines, according to IATA.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2024

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