Africa:Nigerian Civil Aviation Suspends FirstNation Airlines Licence for Illegal Operations

firstnation odukoya

Nigeria’s Civil Aviation regulatory body, the NCAA, has suspended the Air Operators Certificate (AOC), of one of the country’s domestic operators, First Nation Airways indefinitely for allegedly carrying out illegal and unauthorised operations in the sector.

According to a statement signed by the General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, the suspension was conveyed to the Airline via a letter with reference no. NCAA/DG/CSLA/RM/1-06/18/2304 dated 11th May, 2018, signed by the Director General.

Adurogboye said suspension is sequel to the flagrant and continuous violation of the terms and conditions of issuance of it AOC by the Airline thereby carrying out unauthorised and illegal operations.

He said when the AOC of First Nation Airways expired, the airline did not have at least two (2) 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.

He stated that the Airline’s Air Operators Certificate (AOC) was, upon renewal, restricted to non-scheduled operation, (Charter) only.

“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 Authority had earlier notified the Airline that it was investigating these violations. Subsequently, by a letter dated 31st August 2017, the Airline was directed to stop the illegal operations forthwith, 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.

“This is contrary to the provisions of Part 9.1.1.4(d) of the Nig.CARS 2015 which provides that “Each AOC holder shall at all times, continue in compliance with the AOC terms and conditions of issuance, and maintenance requirements in order to hold that certificate.”
“The Authority has therefore determined that, pursuant to Section 35(2),(3) (a) (ii) and (4) of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006, First Nation Airways is no longer fit to operate air transport business under the authority of the AOC.

“Accordingly, the Airline’s AOC has been suspended indefinitely, with effect from the 11th May, 2018, when it received the notice.

“In addition, the operators of the Airline are expected to return the AOC to the Authority’s Director of Operations and Training within seven (7) days of receiving the letter” he said.
The agency’s image maker further stated the regulatory body is ready to restore the airline’s AOC anytime it demonstrates the ability and willingness to comply with the extant regulations, adding that the Authority shall review the Airline’s operations and restore the AOC to enable it commence operations.

“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) wishes to restate its zero tolerance for violations of the Nig.CARS and shall continue to enforce compliance through application of appropriate sanctions for any infractions.

Reacting to the suspension Firstnation’s spokesman, Rasheed Yusuff said the airline has immediately complied with directive of the regulatory body.

He noted that the suspension slammed on the airline was not safety related adding that that its operation achieved above industry dispatch reliability of over 95% and reputed for on time performance and schedule integrity.

He said: “We are reluctant to join issues, in the media with NCAA, as we believe that Regulation through media sensationalism will ultimately NOT serve the industry well. Except to reiterate that we respect regulations and have immediately complied with NCAA’s directive. 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 Government’s 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. And will cooperate with NCAA in good faith, to address all concerns and the alleged infractions to reach resolution.

“It is pertinent to add that the allegations are NOT safety related and that our operation achieved above industry dispatch reliability of over 95% and reputed for on time performance and schedule integrity. The operating aircraft and crew hold the relevant, safety critical approvals and authorisations.

“The basis of NCAA’s decision is therefore apparently commercial. And in an Industry facing worsening Aircraft capacity constraints, the Authority should be forward looking and working with industry to facilitate policies that will endear industry growth, so as not to further limit and compromise passengers’ choice options across all segments. The national interest has not been served by this development”.

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