22 June 2012

Nigeria: Again, NCAA Suspends Air Nigeria Operations

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended the operations of one of nation's major airlines, Air Nigeria.

A statement signed by the management of the airline said that its flight operations were suspended with immediate effect over allegations that the airline is in financial distress.

"The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)has suspended our flight operations with immediate effect over alleged indications that the airline is in financial distress.

"We wish to apologize for all the inconvenience that this order by the NCAA will bring on our passengers and wish to assure Nigerians that Air Nigeria will continue to liaise with the relevant agencies to ensure that the suspension order is lifted as soon as possible," the statement said.

Since the June 3 Dana plane crash which killed 153 persons on board and others on ground in Lagos, the regulatory body has been applying stringent conditions on airlines.

About a week ago, NCAA suspended the operations of Air Nigeria after a strike was called off by the pilots and engineers of the airline, an action that was attributed to part of the conditions set out by the 2006 Civil Aviation Act and in tandem with the regulations of the International Civil Aviation Organistion (ICAO).

Since his travails, the chairman of Air Nigeria, Jimoh Ibrahim, alleged last week that the airline had been harassed. and haunted since it started its Lagos to London service.

Ibrahim in a press conference said that even the strike embarked on by the pilots and engineers was influenced by external factors.

This week, the Federal Inland Revenue Service arrested the airline's managing director, Kinfe Kayssaye, for non-payment of taxes by Air Nigeria amounting to N4.86 billion.

Yesterday before the suspension of its operations by NCAA, the Air Nigeria chairman was involved in altercation with the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Hope Uzodimma, in Abuja, at the ongoing public hearing on the crashed Dana aircraft.

Reacting to the suspension, a public commentator on aviation matters, Simon Tumba disclosed that over the last two to three months, the technical crew of Air Nigeria had consistently warned that the airline's fleet was not airworthy, yet "NCAA curiously and deliberately refused to do anything.

"Thank God there was no serious incident with that carrier before its suspension."

Tumba said, "Now the game is up! Why did the NCAA wait this long to act? After the NCAA gave the airline a clean bill last week, I was alarmed, based on the facts on the ground."

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