The Association of Foreign Airlines and Representative in Nigeria (AFARN) on Tuesday lauded the Federal Government on the payment of some trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines.

The President, AFARN, Mr Kingsley Nwokoma, said this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.

Nwokoma said that a substantial amount of the total fund of $800 million had been paid, but did not disclose the specific amount paid to affected foreign airlines.

Expressing his satisfaction, Nwokoma said: “The last time we interacted, we zeroed our discussion mainly on the funds of foreign carriers’ trapped in our system, which of course is no longer news if you ask me.

“The news, however, is that out of $800 million, substantial per cent of the funds has been paid to the affected airlines.

“This is even as the Current Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), is making concerted efforts to ensure that foreign carriers, operating into the country are not short changed under any guise.

“Therefore, we commend the minister for hitting the ground running and also the Central Bank of Nigeria for having a listening ear, given the austere time the country is going through.”

Nwokoma congratulated Air Peace Airlines on its recent bold venture into the Lagos- London route and wished more Nigerian carriers could explore same option for more international routes.

“Here also, we want to state that collaboration and alliances are key in world aviation. No one airline can do it alone.

‘We will continue to seek this collaboration amongst operators. Similarly, AFARN also encourages the foreign airlines to start selling low inventory tickets to the flying public.

‘This will not only boost the business in the industry but would increase the number of air passengers.”

He noted the progress being made to reposition the aviation industry, specifically in the cargo sector, whereby state owned cargo airports were springing up.

Nwokoma explained that the overriding intent was to stimulate the economy and to also ensure that Nigerian goods are sold to the outside world.

“I’m also aware that lots and lots of standardisation, modernisation and procedures are being carried out to make operations simple.

“It is to also reduce bureaucratic procedures that make imports clearing and export forwarding friendlier to ensure the acceptability of international values.”

He said that the association’s Annual Safety Summit was scheduled to hold in the third quarter of the year.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)