The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) yesterday said domestic airlines are not folding up but merely suspending their operations.
The suspension, the airline industry regulator said, was to enable the carriers undertake operational overhaul and strengthen their overall operational outlay.
Its Director-General, Captain Muhtar Usman in a statement said Aero Contractors, at present has only one serviceable aircraft, adding that this in contradiction to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARS) which stipulates that no airline shall carry out scheduled commercial operation with only one aircraft, adding that the minimum acceptable number is three.
He said :”In other words, any airline with one aircraft is in contravention of the Authority’s regulations therefore cannot be adjudged to be capable of providing safe operation. The only option available is to suspend your operations temporarily while other aircraft arrive in due course.”
He however, stated that NCAA’s regulations provides a window for such operator to embark on non schedule operations in the interim.
He said First Nation Airlines on its part is in the middle of an engine replacement programme for one of its aircraft, stressing that another aircraft is due for mandatory maintenance as its allowable by the regulatory authority.
In these circumstances, these airlines he said clearly cannot continue to undertake schedule operations, hence the inevitable recourse to self-regulatory suspension.
“The NCAA wishes to reiterate that on no account will it compromise safety and security of airline operations in the airspace,”he said.
Meanwhile, First Nation Airways yesterday said it is not operating because its Airbus 319 fleet is undergoing maintenance.
The airline said its current operational challenges are attributable to the over 70 per cent devaluation of the naira.
Its Head, Commercial, Serah Awogbade said the aircraft maintenance will be completed by September 15, 2016.
”First Nation is currently undergoing maintenance on A319 fleet.This maintenance exercise will be completed on or before September 15th, 2016.The Airline planned this maintenance action well ahead, notified passengers and flights are currently loaded online effective September 15th, 2016 – this will ensure that passengers continue to enjoy safe and reliable service that the airline is reputed for.
“ Current foreign exchange constraint coupled with over 70 per cent devaluation of naira partly contributed in no small l measure to the development. The Airline’s plan remains on track to reinstating service as advised herein,” its statement explained.
Aviation unions comprising Air Traffic Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) yesterday occupied the head office of Aero Contractors at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, following the decision of its management to suspend operations.
The workers described the directive that they proceed on compulsory leave as unacceptable.
They said they should not be held liable for the incompetence of the management in mismanaging Nigeria’s oldest carrier.
ATSSSAN President, Comrade Benjamin Okewu said the take over of the airline followed the indefinite leave given to the over 1,400 workers.