One of Nigeria's commercial airlines, First Nation Airways, has abandoned schedule flight service for charter operations.
This was confirmed in a telephone interview by the airline to journalists who wanted to know why it still operates one aircraft instead of the minimum of two as prescribed by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations for scheduled service.
Recently the First Nation Airways was slammed with N33.5 million sanctions for the breach of safety regulations and according to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the agency is working out modalities on how the airline would pay such huge penalty.
Capt. Muhtar Usman, the Director-General, NCAA, told journalists yesterday in Lagos that the airline had downscaled its operations from schedule operator to non-schedule, saying that the status would remain so until it improved its aircraft fleet to at least two and would have to meet the requirements for schedule services.
On the total N33.5 million sanctions imposed on the airline some few months ago for safety negligence, Usman confirmed that the authority would work with the airline to ensure the penalty was paid.
He, however, said the essence of sanctioning any operator or organisation was not punitive, but to serve as a corrective measure to prevent recurrence.
Yes, they use one aircraft and they were on schedule services, but the present status now is that the certificate of the airworthiness of the status has been changed to non-schedule service, which is charter service. So, they are no longer into schedule service until they are able to meet the requirement for scheduled service.
I will still reconfirm to you that whatever sanction we impose on any operator it's in-line with Civil Regulation and it's not punitive, but corrective. FirstNation was sanctioned, they appealed, the appeal, which was upheld. So, we are still working with them to pay the sanction. We don't want to cripple any operations. If it is safety related, we will not waste time, but the payment is being worked out now," Usman said.