*Says trapped funds not loan, will be repaid
*Insists airlines must have reciprocal rights under our BASAs
Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The federal government through the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, yesterday, disclosed that it was working on the final details on the United Arab Emirates visa issue.
The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, made the disclosure at the closing ceremony of the 7th African Aviation Summit in Abuja.
Keyamo, while speaking, stressed that it was crucial for airlines operating between Nigeria and the UAE to have reciprocal rights as per Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA).
He also stressed the importance of balanced and fair treatment between the two countries.
The minister who addressed concerns regarding trapped funds, assured that efforts were being made to ensure that the trapped funds of foreign airlines were repatriated
“We are working the details out. When two countries agree at the very top level then of course all the government operatives will begin to work out the tiny details.
“So, we are beginning to work out all the tiny details. I met with Emirate before I left UAE, I met with Etihad before I left UAE and we are working out the details.
“The timeframe, we cannot say. Kicking off an airline operation again on a route, it is not that you will go and grab one empty plane sitting in a place. “There is no idle plane sitting anywhere, they have to reschedule their flights, restart their routes again, and all kinds of things.
“All kinds of permission will be taken from local authorities and of course, I made the point in speaking with them and I made it clear that they will have to give our airlines reciprocal rights under our BASA.”
He said further: “That is the point I insisted on, and they did say that any spot we need, they will give us as much as we give them those spots within Nigeria.”
Speaking on the issue of trapped funds he said, “Mr. President is very concerned about that, in fact, it is one of the issues we went to discuss in the UAE. I spoke with the minister of finance and the coordinating minister of the economy and he has given an indication that within the next few weeks, the Central Bank of Nigeria will be very clear as to the programme within which these issues will be addressed.
“They will be paid off; these are not loans; they are trapped funds. It is only the issue of liquidity that is our problem. The issues of liquidity are being addressed as I speak right now.
“It is something that the president is very concerned about, and that issue, I said that we have addressed it in the UAE and very soon, you will hear from the financial sector,” the minister concluded.