First Nation, one of the eight domestic airlines has voluntarily grounded its flight operations due to lack flight crew that are current.
Abelnewsng.com learnt that apart from the reason above one of the reasons for grounding its own operations was also due to lack of airplane to operate with and that the only aircraft A319 left after one had gone for maintenance as a result of the technical fault it developed.
But reacting, the Director, Flight Operations, Capt. Chimara Imediegwu, confirmed the development, but stated that the airline was not grounded by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), as been speculated in some quarters.
Speaking further, he said, “The airline was not grounded but that the airline was re- programming its schedule.”
He added that the airline decided to take this step in order not to continue to fly for flying sake spending the scarce resources following the drop in the number of passengers flying to Kaduna, adding that the airline would be back in March 28.
The Director of flight operations said that because of the volume of passengers some other airlines have also cut down their flights
Recalled that the airline before now, had three airplanes in its fleet; Airbus 319, but reduced to two in 2015, when one of the aircraft went for maintenance abroad, but could not return to operations due to lack of funds.
The second A319 aircraft with the registration number 5N-FND, parked at the tarmac Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, the online platform learnt has also been grounded since December 2016 due to engine problem.
A source close to the airline told Abelnewsng.com that for the aircraft to fly again it would cost the airlines millions of Dollars and that with the current recession in the country, the airline may not be able to afford it for now.
The sources added that the only aircraft left for the airline, which it has been using December, however developed technical issue on Sunday and this, the source pointed out made the airline to ground its own operations before NCAA pounce on it.
Contacted the General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, Mr. Sam Adurogbye, confirmed the development to AbelNewsng.com via text message.
He was however quick to add that the airline grounded its own operations due to lack of flight crew.
According to him, ”FirstNation grounded its own operations because the airline don’t have flight crew that are current at the moment.”
Recalled that Adurogboye while briefing Aviation Correspondent in February at the National Union Of Air Transport Employees (NUATE )Secretariat confirmed the airline was using one aircraft for flight operations because it was granted it waiver to use one aircraft due to the unserviceable nature of its second aircraft, adding that despite that regulatory authority was monitoring its operations closely
According to him, “There can be a waiver. Waiver is a form of assistance to airlines. So, we grant airlines waivers to operate with just one aircraft, but the waiver is just for three to four months.”
This is the second time the airline would be grounding its own operation.
Recalled that in August 2016, the airline suspended operations for two months due to lack of operating aircraft.
The Director, Flight Operations, Capt. Chimara Imediegwu while briefing Aviation Correspondents had stated that the airline suspended operations due to inadequate equipment in its fleet.
He explained that two of the airline’s aircraft developed some snags, which affected its operations, adding that it grounded operations voluntarily with the knowledge of NCAA.
According to him, “We had a snag in one of our aircraft and not a C-Check as claimed in some quarters. We carried out a troubleshooting on the aircraft and we were not satisfied with its performance. So, we decided to ground our operations pending the time when the three aircraft would be in perfect position.
He continued, “Manufacturers engineers would be in the country either by 8th or 9th this month. Immediately they arrive, they would effect repairs on the aircraft and I can assure you that we will return to flight operations by 15th September, 2016.”