The Central Bank of Nigeria said it will not bow to the seeming blackmail by foreign airlines over their demand for foreign exchange. In responds to threats by foreign airlines to sack over 2,000 workers , if the bank refuses to grant them access to Forex for their operations, CBN spokesman, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, said the bank had been selling Forex to airlines through Deposit Money Banks, DMBs, but it also recognizes competing demands for the same Forex from other business sectors.
Mr Okoroafor said scarcity of Forex is being managed professionally by the monetary authorities to ensure that priority is give to sectors that drive growth in the economy, especially the manufacturing industries.
“That claim is not true. CBN has been selling Forex to the airlines through their banks. We are going through a period of Forex scarcity. Part of our strategy has been to identify key sectors and industries that will drive growth and curtail excessive Forex demand. Airlines have been buying through their banks at the inter-bank rate.”
“I am sure if you go through the published statements of sale by the banks, you will find this. What is not possible now, however, is for CBN to meet the demand by some of these airlines. But look at their advertised airfares.”
“Is it not curious to note that some of them have their business class fares as low as about N600,000, while others put theirs at close to N2millon? Can you imagine that? We all need to understand that there’s no way we will collect all our reserves to satisfy just few businesses, while other ones suffer,” Mr Okoroafor said.
Recall: The Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Comrade Olayinka Abioye had pleaded with the federal government to intervene and prevent the huge job loss, adding that if the foreign airlines went ahead with the sacking of the workers it would not be in the interest of the aviation sector and Nigeria as a whole.