The Federal Government has said it is currently working on the final details related to the United Arab Emirates visa issue and airlines’ fund repatriation.
The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, who disclosed this at the closing ceremony of the 7th African Aviation Summit in Abuja on Thursday, said it was crucial for airlines operating between Nigeria and the UAE to have reciprocal rights as per the Bilateral Air Services Agreements.
He stressed the importance of balanced and fair treatment between the two countries.
Keyamo addressed concerns regarding trapped funds. He assured that efforts were being made to ensure that the funds of foreign airlines were repatriated
He said, “We are working the details out. When two countries agree at the very top level, then, of course, all the government operatives will begin to work out the tiny details. So, we are beginning to work out all the tiny details. I met with Emirate before I left the UAE, and I met with Etihad before I left the UAE, and we are working out the details.
“The time frame—we cannot say the time frame. Kicking off an airline operation again on a route does not mean that you will go and grab one empty plane sitting in a place. There is no idle plane sitting anywhere; they have to reschedule their flights, restart their routes again, and do all kinds of other things.
“All kinds of permission will be taken from local authorities, and of course, I made the point in speaking with them, and I made it clear that they will have to give our airlines reciprocal rights under our BASA. That is the point I insisted on, and they did say that any spot we need, they will give us as much as we give them those spots within Nigeria.”
Speaking on the issue of trapped funds, he said, “Mr. President is very concerned about that; in fact, it is one of the issues we went to discuss in the UAE. I spoke with the minister of finance and the coordinating minister of the economy, and he has given an indication that within the next few weeks, the Central Bank of Nigeria will be very clear as to the program within which these issues will be addressed.
“They will be paid off; these are not loans; they are trapped funds; they are funds that are there; it is only the issue of liquidity that is our problem. The issue of liquidity is being addressed as I speak right now. It is something that the president is very concerned about, and about that issue, I said that we have addressed it in the UAE, and very soon, you will hear from the financial sector.”