(Recasts throughout; adds quotes from IATA CEO)
By Allison Lampert
MONTREAL, Sept 27 (Reuters) - The value of ticket sales owed to foreign airlines in Nigeria has been reduced by over 50 percent since June, the International Air Transport Association said on Tuesday, adding it is making progress to recoup billions of dollars in revenues blocked by some countries.
IATA, the trade association of the world’s airlines, said it wants to develop a “common strategy” where carriers act in tandem to recuperate ticket sales revenue being withheld in Venezuela.
“Up to now, we haven’t been able to have a unified approach without breaking anti-trust rules,” IATA Chief Executive Alexandre de Juniac told reporters in Montreal, on the sidelines of United Nations-led climate talks for the aviation sector.
“The question is (whether you can have) a unified approach to say to the state: ‘You are not fulfilling your basic obligations to pay us,’” he said.
IATA last week requested anti-trust immunity from the United States to allow the association to legally discuss routes to Venezuela, which is blocking $3.78 billion in ticket revenues from leaving the country.
Airlines are banned from coordinating routes and pricing with rivals under U.S. antitrust rules. Several major carriers, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Lufthansa AG, have cut back on routes or stopped flying to Venezuela altogether.
In June, IATA said that airline revenues then worth $5 billion were being blocked by countries with tight currency exchange rate controls.
Venezuela was the biggest culprit followed by Nigeria, which was withholding $591 million.
Since June, the value of ticket sales revenue owed to foreign airlines in Nigeria has been reduced by over 58 percent since June to $246 million, IATA spokeswoman Mona Aubin said.
“Talks continue toward establishing a realistic and achievable payment schedule to settle the remaining amount,” she said. (Reporting by Allison Lampert, editing by G Crosse)