The Central Bank of Nigeria has refuted claims by some airlines alleging that they are unable to access foreign exchange.
A number of airlines operating on international routes from the country had claimed that the reason behind the increase in airfares was due to their inability to access forex.
But in a swift response, the CBN in a statement by its spokesperson, Isaac Okoroafor, said it had been selling forex to the airlines through the commercial banks at the interbank rate.
Okoroafor, said that anyone in doubt as to whether the airlines had been accessing forex or not should go through the published statements of sale by the banks.
“The scarcity of forex is not peculiar to Nigeria. It is the same situation in most commodity-dependent economies, especially those that depend on oil. So, what we have been doing is to prioritise the sale of forex. The airlines may not be having enough, but that is not enough reason for them to begin to increase airfares arbitrarily,” he said.
He further said that it was alarming that some airlines had to increase their fares to as much as 100 per cent.
According to him, it is curious that while business class fare used to be as low as N600,000, some of the airlines now offer it for close to N2m.
He explained that the central bank’s method of making forex available had been to identify key sectors and industries that would drive growth and curtail excessive forex demand.
“What is not possible is for the CBN to meet just any demand by some of the airlines. We all need to understand that there is no way we will collect all our reserves to satisfy just few businesses, while other ones suffer,” Okoroafor said.