The challenges facing First Nation Airways does not rain but pours, as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has finally suspended the Air Operators Certificate (AOC) of the embattled airline indefinitely.
The suspension of the one aircraft airline is coming few days after the Managing Director of the airline; Mr Kayode Odukoya was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) before Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court in Ikeja on a four-count charge bordering on alleged forgery, use of false information, perjury and stealing to the tune of N1, 741, 994, 962.04.
Recalled that Odukoya was arraigned by EFCC on Friday, March 16, 2018.
However, Odukoya has filed a notice of preliminary objection, asking the High Court in Ikeja to quash the N1. 7 billion theft charge preferred against him by Skye Bank through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
An online issued by the General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr Sam Adurogboye explained that 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.
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 receipt.
The statement added that the 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.
NCAA letter revealed that 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 18.104.22.168(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, 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.
NCAA stated that it had earlier notified the airline that it was investigating these violations, adding that subsequently, by a letter dated August 31, 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.
NCAA stated that 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 22.214.171.124(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,” NCAA said.
However, NCAA noted that anytime the airline demonstrates ability and willingness to comply with the extant regulations, the authority shall review the airline’s operations and restore the AOC to enable it commence operations.
NCAA, the statement restated has zero tolerance for violations of the Nig.CARS and that it shall continue to enforce compliance through application of appropriate sanctions for any infractions.