About $175m in ticket sales by foreign airlines is still trapped in Nigeria, the International Air Transport Association has said. The Area Manager, South West Africa, IATA, Mr. Samson Fatokun, said in Lagos on Wednesday that this was due to scarcity of foreign exchange, adding that the situation was impacting negatively on the operations of the affected carriers. Fatokun stated that the Central Bank of Nigeria needed to accelerate the process that would give the affected airlines access to the funds. He said, “Though the CBN has tried to bring the blocked funds from $600m last June to about $175m as of June 2017, a lot could still be done to clean out the entire sum. “Nigeria could accelerate the release of the funds as done by some African countries, such as Egypt, where the entire blocked funds have been repatriated.” According to him, the negative impact of withholding airlines’ funds can have ripple effects on the entire aviation value chain. He added that Iberia and United Airlines pulled out of Nigeria last year because of the same issue, noting that IATA was also worried about the rising airport and air navigational charges, taxes and levies, which had begun to affect the capacity of airlines operating in the country. The Regional Vice President, Africa and Middle East, IATA, Muhammad Albakri, said more jobs could be created and economic growth achieved in Nigeria and West Africa if governments utilised aviation as a pillar for recovery and national development.