IATA pushes for repatriation of blocked funds

Aviation body IATA has urged governments around the world to abide by agreements and treaty obligations to enable airlines to release $963m in blocked funds 

According to the organisation, governments’ refusal to abide by the agreements could slow the recovery of travel and tourism in affected markets. IATA said that airlines regularly face delays in the return of overseas funds due to foreign exchange shortages or regulatory obstacles put in place by certain governments. Over half of the funds are being held by four countries, with Bangladesh ($146.1m), Lebanon ($175.5m), Nigeria ($143.8m) and Zimbabwe ($142.7m) accounting for 60% of the total.  

Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general and former CEO of British Airways, said: “Airlines will not be able to provide reliable connectivity if they cannot rely on local revenues to support operations. That is why it is critical for all governments to prioritise ensuring that funds can be repatriated efficiently. Now is not the time to score an ‘own goal’ by putting vital air connectivity at risk.” 

Venezuela has blocked over $4bn in airline revenues since 2014, due to the amount of funds requiring approval for repatriation, although these figures are not included in IATA’s tracking.