The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended First Nation Airways indefinitely for carrying out illegal and unauthorised operations in Nigeria.
This suspension was conveyed to First Nation Airways via a letter with reference number NCAA/DG/CSLA/RM/1-06/18/2304 dated May 11, 2018 signed by the Director General of the NCAA, Capt. Muktar Usman.
Spokesman for the NCAA Mr Sam Adurogboye told journalists that the letter titled ‘Notice Of Suspension of Air Operators Certificate (AOC)’ was delivered to the airline on Friday May 11, 2018 and that First Nation Airways has acknowledged the receipt of the letter.
Adurogboye explained that the NCAA had to withdraw the AOC from First Nation Airways when it discovered recently that the airline had breached its directive of utilising its operating licence (given that it had just one airworthy aircraft in its fleet) to conduct only charter operations, and that instead it had gone ahead to circumvent the directive and was carrying out commercial scheduled operations in the country.
Airlines engaged in commercial operations are usually licenced on the strength of possessing a minimum of two or three aircraft, which allows for speedy replacements or backup plans should one of the aircraft suddenly develop faults or needs to be taken out for maintenance so that passengers are not left stranded.
The use of a single aircraft for scheduled commercial airlifting of hundreds of passengers daily on the Lagos-Abuja route, as done by First Nation Airways, is considered a severe case of safety and security breach in aviation. As such, some operators make compromises with the aircraft by prioritising profit over safety.
“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 the Nigerian civil aviation regulation law. Consequently, First Nation Airways Air Operators Certificate (AOC) was, upon renewal, restricted to non-scheduled or charter operation only,” said Adurogboye.
“However, First Nation Airways embarked on scheduled operations with continuous advertisement of its services and sold tickets at its check-in counters in Lagos and Abuja Airports.
“The NCAA had earlier notified the airline that it was investigating these violations and the airline was directed to stop the illegal operations forthwith, with the warning that failure to desist would lead to a suspension of its operating authorisation.
“On further investigation, it was discovered that the Airline had disregarded all warnings and continued with the unauthorised and illegal operations in violation of its AOC terms and conditions of issuance,” Adurogboye said.
The spokesman explained that the NCAA has determined that, pursuant to Section 35(2),(3) (a) (ii) and (4) of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Act, 2006, First Nation Airways is no longer fit to operate air transport business under the authority of the AOC it is holding.
“Accordingly, the Airline’s AOC has been suspended indefinitely, with effect from the 11th May, 2018, when it received the notice,” Adurogboye said.
“In addition, the operators of the First Nation Airways are expected to return the AOC to the NCAA Director of Operations and Training within seven days of receiving the letter. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) wishes to restate its zero tolerance for violations of the Nigerian Civil aviation laws and shall continue to enforce compliance through application of appropriate sanctions for any infractions,” Adurogboye added.