14 May 2018

Nigeria: Aviation Union Backs NCAA's Suspension of Firstnation Airways' Licence

The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) on Monday said it supported the indefinite suspension placed on the Air Operators Certificate (AOC) of FirstNation Airways.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) suspended the airline's licence for carrying out unauthorised and illegal operations.

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

Olayinka Abioye, the General Secretary of NUATE, told NAN 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.

Sam Adurogboye, General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, had on Sunday confirmed the suspension of the airline's operations.

Mr Adurogboye said the suspension was conveyed to the airline through a letter with reference no. NCAA/DG/CSLA/RM/1-06/18/2304 and dated May 11, 2018.

He said it was signed by the Director General of NCAA, Muhtar Usman.

He said the letter had been delivered to FirstNation Airways and the airline had acknowledged receipt.

Mr Adurogboye said: "The suspension is sequel to the flagrant and continuous violation of the terms and conditions of issuance of the AOC to the airline by NCAA, thereby, carrying out unauthorised and illegal operations.

"The letter revealed that when the AOC of First Nation Airways expired, the airline did not have at least two airworthy aircraft capable of servicing its approved schedule as required by Part 9.1.1.6 (b) (2) (ii) of Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation (Nig. CARS) 2015.

"Consequently, the airline's AOC was, upon renewal, restricted to non-scheduled operation, (Charter) only."

However, the airline's spokesman, Rasheed Yusuff, said 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 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 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. (NAN)

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