Lagos - Four domestic airlines have survived a clampdown by the country's aviation regulatory agency to rid the local airspace of companies it deemed unfit to operate aircraft, CAJ News can reveal.
Arik Airlines, FirstNation Airways, Aero Contractor and Overland Airways survived the crackdown that came amid a spate of air crashes in recent months,
The airlines currently under suspension by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) include Dana Airline, Associated Airline, IRS Airlines and Chanchangi Airlines.
Last month, the aviation authority suspended the operations of Associated Airlines following an air crashed in Lagos where 16 people were killed.
The victims were accompanying the corpse of a former Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Agagu on a chartered flight ahead of the burial.
Immediately after the incident, NCAA boss, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, announced the suspension of the airlines operation for a proper investigation and audit of it fleet.
Following another near-crash, the NCAA also suspended the operations of Dana Airline to pave the way for a safety audit of the carrier’s operations.
Last week, the aviation authority again announced the suspension of IRS Airlines and Chanchangi Airlines operation on the grounds that both airlines do not have enough planes to maintain its operations.
NCAA said both airlines have just one aircraft each for it nationwide operation.
Public Relations Manager, Chanchangi, Oludele Balogun, confirmed the development but added that two of its three aircraft are undergoing routine maintenance. He said the aircraft had gone for routine checks in Serbia and South Africa.
“Our policy is to always support the government at all levels, especially in the aviation sector, and not to go into public criticism,” he said.
IRS Managing Director, Yemi Dada, said the airline was getting an Embraer 145 plane from the Bauchi State Government to bring the number of planes in its fleet to six.
He said although one plane was currently “in operation” due to routine maintenance of the others, he assured that the carrier would have three operational planes in the next three weeks.
He said the firm aimed to increase the number of planes to six by January.
Although the current suspensions have reduced the number of active airlines, stakeholder welcomed the move by NCAA.
“When an airline is using only one plane, there is the tendency to put unnecessary pressure on that plane. In India, you must have a minimum of four planes; otherwise you cannot fly. We must up the stake in Nigeria. If our rule says only two aircraft, then you must even go beyond two planes. We must not be seen to be operating on the borderline. We should go beyond the minimum standard set by the regulator. This is how to improve air safety. We must not wait until accidents happen before we do certain things,” said Abiodun Durojaiye, an analyst.
– CAJ News