IATA sounds warning over impact of blocked airline funds on industry recovery
Global airline lobby IATA, says the industry’s recovery from the current disruptions could be weighed down by the failure of airlines to repatriate close to nearly USD 1 billion in blocked funds from the sale of tickets, cargo space, and other activities.
Director General Willie Walsh says governments are preventing the repatriation of nearly USD 1 billion of airline revenues in contravention of international conventions.
That “could slow the recovery of travel and tourism in affected markets as the airline industry struggles to recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” Walsh said adding that airlines would not be able to provide reliable connectivity if they cannot access local revenues to support operations.
“Now is not the time to score an ‘own goal’ by putting vital air connectivity at risk,” Willie Walsh said.
According to IATA, about USD963 million in airline funds is blocked in 20 countries with four countries: Bangladesh ($146.1 million), Lebanon ($175.5 million), Nigeria ($143.8 million), and Zimbabwe ($142.7 million), accounting for more than 60pc of this total. This is despite recent progress towards reducing blocked funds by Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
“We encourage governments to work with industry to resolve the issues that are preventing airlines from repatriating funds. This will enable aviation to provide the connectivity needed to sustain jobs and energize economies as they recover from COVID-19,” said Walsh.