By Louis Iba
First Nation Airways says it will return to normal scheduled flight operations by September 15 describing as rumours news of its plans to shut down operations completely in Nigeria.
“First Nation is not on the verge of folding up. In reality, since the airline launched services in 2011, it has built a strong followership and has been rated consistently as market leader on safety and schedule integrity,” said the airline’s spokesman, Mr. Rasheed Yusuff.
Yusuff explained that the recent suspension of services by the airline was to facilitate the mandatory engine maintenances on its current aircraft fleet for safety reasons, in line with global best practice in the industry.
“Our current fleet is undergoing engine maintenance (global airlines have had
cause ground larger aircraft fleet types to enhance safety across the globe in the past) and Safety is paramount to us and if we have to ground again for safety reasons so be it,” Yusuff said.
“This is a planned maintenance and orderly arranged with advance notification to passengers and service will be reinstated on or before September 15, 2016. We currently have no aircraft undergoing C-Check anywhere in the world. Our first fleet of A320 were orderly returned to the Lessor and we maintained good relationship with the Lessor. We are working to grow the fleet as well,” he added.
Yusuff said the award of IOSA certification within 12 months of application by First Nation remains unrivalled in West and Central Africa.
The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) programme is an internationally recognised and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline.
Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Muhtar Usman, announced last week that First Nation was in the middle of an engine replacement programme for one of its aircraft, forcing the airline to recourse to “self-regulatory suspension”.
“Another aircraft is due for mandatory maintenance as is allowable by NCAA,” Usman said.
“In these circumstances, these airlines clearly cannot continue to undertake schedule operations, hence the inevitable recourse to self-regulatory suspension,” Usman added.