Following Nigeria’s slowing economy amid scarcity of foreign exchange, international airlines operating in Nigeria have reportedly planned to reduce the number of flights in and out of the country next year, Nigerian Watch reports.
This is in response to the government’s new directive limiting the ability of investors to repatriate profits they have made in the country.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had earlier this month issued a new directive prohibiting investors from exchanging billions of naira they have accrued into dollars and repatriating it. This new measure automatically created a scarcity of foreign exchange and has limited Nigeria’s appeal as an investment destination.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), unhappy about the directive, pleaded with the CBN governor, Godwin Emiefele to intervene in the matter and make dollars available to the airlines.
International airlines have also met with the transport minister Rotimi Amaechi and urged him to look into their case.
Exasperated with the government, the airlines have decided to act and as from March 2016, British Airways plans to reduce its flights to Nigeria by bringing in smaller aircraft.
Other foreign airlines may either change their aircraft type or reschedule and reduce the number of flights to Nigeria. Those which are not major players in the Nigerian market may stop flights to the country altogether.
A source from British airways said: “Some parents whose children are in school overseas are considering withdrawing them as our economy, which has become the strongest economy in Africa is grinding to a halt. We don’t want to make our plan to reduce operations public because we don’t want to cause any panic.”
The source also suggested that CBN should endeavor to provide foreign exchange to the essential service sector so that the economy would not grind to a halt.