First Nation Airways has reacted to the grounding of its operations by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) saying regulation through what it describes as “media sensationalism” does not augur well for the aviation sector.
In a statement issued in Lagos and signed by one Rasheed Yusuff, the airline 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.”
The airline said that with the worsening aircraft capacity in the aviation industry, NCAA is supposed to be doing things that would engender the growth of the industry.
“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.
However, the airline said “we respect regulations and have immediately complied with NCAA’s directive.”
It went on to state as follows: “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 (sic).
“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 per cent and reputed for on time performance and schedule integrity. The operating aircraft and crew hold the relevant, safety critical approvals and authorisations.
“We remain committed to the highest level of safety standard in line with industry best practice. First Nation is currently working assiduously on fleet expansion and confident that we will grow our fleet this year, 2018.”
It would be recalled that the NCAA had, at the weekend, grounded the airline’s operations indefinitely and directed the carrier to return the Air Operators Certificate (AOC) to the agency.
The agency said the suspension of the airline’s operations “is sequel to the flagrant and continuous violation of the terms and conditions of issuance of AOC by the airline.”
It stated that the airline had engaged in illegal operations in violation of extant rules.
Specifically, NCAA said the airline’s AOC had expired adding that the carrier did not have at least two airworthy aircraft capable of servicing its approved schedules as required by Part 188.8.131.52(b) (2) (ii) of Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation (Nig.CARS) 2015.