IATA’s de Juniac heads to Zimbabwe over blocked airline funds
IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac, is scheduled to meet Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa early July, as part of efforts to secure the release of airline funds that are blocked in the southern African country.
De Juniac revealed the plans during a roundtable with journalists from Africa and the Middle East on the sidelines of IATA’s 75th AGM on June 03, in Seoul.
“Whenever and wherever we have a situation of airline funds that cannot be repatriated for any reason, the discussion of how this can be resolved starts immediately,” de Juniac said before revealing the plans to travel to Zimbabwe.
IATA made progress freeing trapped funds after Nigeria, Egypt and Angola cleared their backlogs. But the situation is dynamic and $646 million remained blocked in the Middle East and Africa at the end of March 2019. Of that figure, $413 million was held by African countries with Zimbabwe, Sudan, Algeria, Angola and Eritrea leading the table.
Some $73 million remain blocked in Eritrea alone while Sudan and Angola are understood to have repatriated outstanding balances in recent weeks.
The blocked funds crisis reached a peak in 2015 as commodity dependent economies suffered a sharp contraction in foreign exchange earnings hitting airlines with a double-blow of weak business an inability to repatriate earnings.
de Juniac says blocked funds constrain operators ability to sustain service and in extreme cases, airlines have been forced to cut frequency just to cope.