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Approximately $963 million in airline funds are being blocked from repatriation in nearly 20 countries. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Airlines are facing nearly $1 billion in blocked funds from the sale of tickets, cargo space, and other activities, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA).

"Governments are preventing nearly $1 billion of airline revenues from being repatriated - this contravenes international conventions and could slow the recovery of travel and tourism in affected markets as the airline industry struggles to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, " said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General.

About $963 million in airline funds are being blocked from repatriation in nearly 20 countries. Four countries: Bangladesh ($146.1 million), Lebanon ($175.5 million), Nigeria ($143.8 million), and Zimbabwe ($142.7 million), account for over 60 per cent of this total.

"Airlines will not be able to provide reliable connectivity if they cannot rely on local revenues to support operations," said Walsh. "That is why it is critical for all governments to prioritize ensuring that funds can be repatriated efficiently," he added.

"Now is not the time to score an ‘own goal’ by putting vital air connectivity at risk," said Walsh.

Some improvement

Passenger demand performance for June showed a very slight improvement in both international and domestic air travel markets, said IATA in an earlier report. “Demand remains significantly below pre-COVID-19 levels owing to international travel restrictions,” said the industry body.

Total demand for air travel in June (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 60.1 per cent compared to the previous year. That was a small improvement over the 62.9 per cent decline recorded in May this year versus May 2019.