British Airways suspends ticket sales due to money stuck

British mega-carrier British Airways has prevented travel agents in Nigeria from selling their tickets, as foreign airlines find it difficult to repatriate more than $464 million in ticket sales revenue to their respective home countries.

This came as the Central Bank of Nigeria on Friday announced the release of $265 million from the N464m locked-up funds to the foreign airlines.

A breakdown of the figure indicates that the $230 million was released as a special FX intervention, while another $35 million was released through the Retail SMIS auction.

However, the BA said in a message to travel agents in Nigeria on Friday that the ticket distribution companies would no longer be able to make new bookings or maintain existing bookings made in Nigeria.

The British airline did not specify the reason for the decision or how long the suspension of ticket sales by Nigerian travel agents would last.

However, BA said it is committed to the Nigerian market and would not stop flights to the country.

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The development means that Nigerian passengers wishing to fly with the UK airline will have to go to the airline’s website to book flights and possibly pay with local or foreign debit cards.

The message to the travel agents, obtained by Saturday PUNCH, read in part: “We have had to make some temporary changes to the way we sell our inventory in Nigeria. As a result, trading partners are currently unable to make new bookings or make bookings made in Nigeria.

“Existing bookings can still be handled on a voluntary or involuntary basis through our Global Engagement Centers and lines. Once a ticket has been revalidated or reissued, British Airways takes ownership of the booking. We remain fully committed to serving the Nigerian market and apologize for this temporary shift in operations.”

The development came just a week after Middle Eastern airline Emirates Airlines announced the suspension of flights to Nigeria effective September 1, 2022. The Dubai-based airline linked the development to its inability to repatriate $85 million in ticket sales.

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The International Air Transport Association, the Switzerland-based global body representing international airlines, had warned Nigeria last week that more airlines could suspend flights to Nigeria if the government did not address the repatriation of the $464 million trapped in Nigeria.

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