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Nigeria Aviation Industry in Crisis, as FirstNation Suspends Operations

Less than 24 hours after the oldest airline in Nigeria, Aero Contractors closed shop, FirstNation Airways, a new carrier, has also suspended flight operations pending arrival of its aircraft that are on C-Checks abroad.

According to National Mirror, the airline, which commenced scheduled flight operations in 2011, it was gathered, suspended all flight operations about a week ago.

A source close to the airline told our correspondent that two of the three Airbus 319-200 in the airline’s fleet have gone for C-Checks several months back and are yet to return.

Media checks revealed that the airline’s ticket counters had folded up for over a week, while its ticket website too has not been functional.

However, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, yesterday dismissed claims in some quarters that some of the airlines are winding down their operations.

A statement signed by Director General, NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman insisted that contrary to the claim, both Aero Contractors and FirstNation Airways were “merely suspending their operations temporarily to enable them undertake certain operational overhaul and strengthen their overall operational outlay.”

Usman said Aero Contractors Ltd., at present, has only one serviceable aircraft in its fleet, saying that this was in contradiction to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, Nig.CARS, which stipulated that no airline operator should carry out schedule commercial operation with only one aircraft.

NCAA said the minimum acceptable number of aircraft in any airline’s fleet should be three.

The statement added: “In other words, any airline with one aircraft is in contravention of the authority’s regulations and 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. “However, NCAA’s regulation provides a window for such operator to embark on non-schedule operations in the interim.

“The First Nation Airlines on its part is in the middle of an Engine Replacement Programme for one of its aircraft. Another aircraft is due for mandatory maintenance as is economy allowable by the Regulatory Authority.”

Usman explained that in the circumstances, the airlines clearly could not continue to undertake schedule operations, hence the inevitable recourse to self-regulatory suspension.

“Every facet of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, Nig.CARS, and Standard and Recommended Practices, SARPs, must be adhered to with due diligence.

“In addition, everything has been put in place to continue to ensure compliance,” the statement added.

When contacted, the Managing Director of the airline, Mr. Kayode Odukoya, promised to send a statement as early as possible, but as at the time of filing this report, he was yet to do so.


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Copyright 2015 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to and other relevant sources.

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