NUATE Suggests Crude Oil Swap To Address Trapped Airlines’ Fund Challenge

The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) has suggested that government could use crude oil swap to defray the backlog of airlines’ funds trapped with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
A letter addressed to the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and signed by NUATE General Secretary, Ocheme Aba reads: “It is important to state that we are very mindful of current difficulties being experienced by the State with regard to the acute shortage of foreign exchange earnings. We also recognize that there are no straight fixes available. But, in view of the apparent calamity that will surely befall the nation if the situation is not ameliorated quickly enough, we urge you to prevail on the Federal Government to take extraordinary measures to resolve the quagmire. Such a measure could include the use of crude oil swap to defray the backlog in the first instance.”
The letter further states: “The ugly situation of hundreds of millions of dollars earned by foreign airlines operating into Nigeria, but which they have been unable to repatriate due to Nigeria’s foreign exchange challenges has already been blown out by local and foreign media, bringing colossal collateral damage to Nigeria’s image. And we find it ineluctable to weigh into the matter, being the trade union to which all workers in the foreign airlines belong. As such our stake in this imbroglio is, without question, much higher than most other stakeholders.
First of all, knowing who you are convinces us that this unpleasant situation must have preoccupied you already, and that your office must already have been working very hard to find a workable solution. Secondly, being that you are, yourself, an aviation professional means that we need not bore you with enumerating the many dangers the continuation of this very adverse situation poses to the health of the aviation sector, the national economy, and Nigeria’s standing in the comity of nations.
However, we feel obliged to mention the threat to the employment and livelihood of thousands of workers of these foreign airlines should there result in further significant reductions, or outright shutdown, of operations of these airlines. We must also mention the concomitant losses (not excluding jobs) that would accrue to several service providers who are dependent on, almost entirely, on the foreign airlines – ground handling, inflight catering, logistics, aviation security, etc. This, unfortunately, is already visible from the reductions of operations that have come into effect in the past weeks resulting from the impasse.
Please, do not be cowered by the enormity of this, and other, problems presently mitigating the sector’s projected growth. We offer our hand of support, whatever that counts for, at this very trying time. We equally make ourselves available for any stakeholders meeting convened to address the matter. And we are hopeful that God helping, we shall overcome.”

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Albinus Chiedu

Albinus Chiedu is a journalist, aviation media consultant, events management professional, and author. He has practiced journalism since 2000.

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