In an interview with THISDAY, Emefiele blamed some of the challenges in the sector on shortage of passengers.
He said the situation was not peculiar to Nigeria, and explained that the sharp decline in the prices of oil has had a negative impact on aviation.
“It is important for me to correct the impression that airlines are closing down or airlines are moving out of the country because of inadequate access to foreign exchange. No one can deny that everyone is finding it hard to get FX these days, given the sharp drop in oil prices and FX inflows. So that may be part of the issue,” he said.
“But the real reason airlines are reducing their flights is a lack of passengers not just in Nigeria but all around the world. As a result of the global economic situation that we find ourselves today, there has been a serious reduction in the number of travellers in different parts of the world. The aviation sector in different parts of the world is confronted by this.
“I would imagine that rather than travel in a weekend to go and organise a party or go and conduct wedding in Dubai or travel to go and organise party in London, given the situation we find ourselves, people have now learnt that there is a need for them to be prudent in spending money.
“So, no doubt, we have seen a reduction in the number of travellers. And because there is a reduction in the number of travellers, naturally there is a reduction in the occupancy rate for the airlines.
“So, that is what has happened. Now, are we giving them forex? You will recall that last week when we did some secondary market intervention through forward, we also considered the aviation sector and we gave them what they needed.
“We are meeting their foreign exchange needs. So, when people say they don’t have foreign exchange, I don’t really understand what they are talking about because we have taken the aviation as an important sector in the country.”
On the reports that the airlines were relocating to Ghana, Emefiele said: “Are they suggesting that Ghana has more FX than us? They are facing the same FX shortages like us, if not worse. And by the way, Ghana’s FX reserves are probably less than 25 percent of ours here in Nigeria. So, it cannot be correct that the airlines are relocating there.”
He added that the CBN had disbursed nearly N2 trillion to both public and strategic private sectors of the economy in the last one year.