First Nation Airways suspended indefinitely

Rayyan Alhassan
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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, has suspended the First Nation Airways indefinitely following a breach of operations guidelines bordering on illegally operating scheduled flights.

DAILY NIGERIAN reports that First Nation Airways is one of the eight indigenous airlines in the country.

 In a letter delivered to the airline on Friday, the NCAA withdrew the Air Operators Certificate, AOC, of the airline.

 While giving its reasons for the suspension, a statement signed by the NCAA’s spokesman, Sam Adurogboye, said the airline embarked on scheduled operations “with continuous advertisement of its services and sold tickets at its check-in counters in Lagos and Abuja airports.”

Part 9.1.1.6(b)(2) (ii) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation (Nig.CARS) 2015 states that airlines must have a minimum of two aircraft to carry out scheduled operations.

Mr Adurogboye further said that investigation showed that the airline disregarded all warnings and continued with the unauthorised and illegal operations in violation of its AOC terms and conditions of issuance.

“This is contrary to the provisions of part 9.1.1.4(d) of the Nig.CARS 2015 which provides that ‘each AOC holder shall at all times, continue in compliance with the AOC terms and conditions of issuance, and maintenance requirements in order to hold that certificate’.

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“The authority has therefore determined that, pursuant to section 35(2),(3) (a) (ii) and (4) of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006, First Nation Airways is no longer fit to operate air transport business under the authority of the AOC.

“Accordingly, the airline’s AOC has been suspended indefinitely, with effect from the 11th May, 2018, when it received the notice.”

Recall that in August 2017, NCAA downgraded the airline during its license renewal; giving it license to only operate chartered flights because it had only one aircraft.

The letter, which was titled Notice of Suspension of Air Operators Certificate, directed the airline to return the license to NCAA’s director of operations and training within seven days of receiving the letter.

In his reaction, the airline’s spokesman, Rasheed Yusuff, said that the suspension was not safety-related as the operating aircraft and crew held the relevant safety critical approvals and authorisations.

Mr Yusuff disclosed that FirstNation Airways had complied with the NCAA’s directive but would seek reconsideration and review of the said suspension.

He said: “It is also a matter of fact, that we presented two airworthy aircraft, to the authority as far back as September 2017.

“It is, therefore, apparent that the context of our operation vis-a-vis compliance with the extant regulations and governments’ policy have been misconstrued.

“Be that as it may, we will seek reconsideration and review of the suspension, in the light of facts that will be made available to the authorities.

“We will cooperate with NCAA in good faith to address all concerns and the alleged infractions to reach resolution.’’

Mr Yusuff said that the suspension was not in the interest of the nation as the airline’s operation achieved above industry dispatch reliability of over 95 per cent.

He said that it was reputed for on time performance and scheduled integrity.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, on Monday said that it supported the indefinite suspension placed on the Air Operators Certificate, AOC, of FirstNation Airways.

DAILY NIGERIAN reports that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, suspended the airline’s licence for carrying out unauthorised and illegal operations.

The agency said that the suspension would take effect from May 11.

Olayinka Abioye, the General Secretary of NUATE, said that the suspension of the airline’s AOC, which came albeit belatedly, was very good for the industry.

He alleged that this was because the airline was operating with only one aircraft.

“This has been long expected. Operating one aircraft as a scheduled flier is a violation of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation (Nig.CARS) 2015,’’ Mr Abioye said.

He said the airline ought to have focused on charter services alone instead of engaging in the illegality of commercial flight operations without the prerequisite requirement.

Mr Abioye urged the NCAA to live up to its statutory responsibilities of regulating the industry by not allowing external forces to influence its decisions.