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DUBLIN, June 2 (Reuters) - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on Thursday for countries with tight currency exchange rate controls including Venezuela and Nigeria to release $5 billion worth of local ticket sales revenues owed to foreign airlines, or risk losing their services.
Two airlines, Lufthansa and LATAM Airlines , said this week they were halting flights to Venezuela, with the German carrier saying the South American country owed it more than $100 million in local ticket sales.
IATA said on Thursday that airline revenues worth $5 billion were currently being blocked by countries, with Venezuela and Nigeria the biggest culprits, effectively withholding $3.78 billion and $591 million respectively. Sudan, Egypt and Angola are also blocking the repatriation of airlines' revenues.
"The efficient repatriation of revenues is critical for airlines to be able to play their role as a catalyst for economic activity," said IATA's Director General Tony Tyler in a statement at the airline group's annual meeting in Dublin.
Currency controls in Venezuela have caused airlines difficulties for some time, with IATA saying the situation became critical in 2015, while in Nigeria, repatriation issues began in the second half of last year.
Lufthansa is unable to access $20 million of ticket revenues in Nigeria because of foreign exchange controls and could cut capacity if that amount grows, sources have said.
IATA said that the Nigerian authorities were in talks with the airlines to seek possible measures to make the funds available. (Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Greg Mahlich)