FirstNation airways has grounded its operations over technical issues which led to scores of passengers stranded at the airport early last week.
Investigation revealed that the airline stopped flying since on the 15th of March, and many of its passengers requesting a refund had been denied.
Many passengers who have sent written and oral complaints to the consumer protection directorate of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, say they were told when they asked for their refund that it was company policy that they do not refund, insisting that their flights would be rescheduled.
Consumer protection Director, NCAA, Mallam Adamu Abdullahi who confirmed the incident said all attempts to get the airline to do the needful has proved unsuccessful.
” the law is that if you are not embarking on flight, you refund the passengers their money to buy other airline tickets to embark their journey, you must not make them wait for you until to commence your flights. Passengers have complained to us about the attitude of the airline and we are in talks with them. They stopped flying since on the 15th of last month, it’s about a week now, the reason for the stoppage of flights given by the airline is operational”.
The airline has been operating with one aircraft an Airbus 319 for months now due to a maintenance issues on the second aircraft.
The airline grounded its operations last year August due to a technical problem on the two of its A319 aircraft but resumed operations in September same year after due maintenance on the aircraft.
That same year, First Nation Airways and one of its Pilots were fined by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) over violation of safety regulations
In a Letter of Sanction conveying the penalties, the Airline was ordered to pay a sum of N32,000,000 (Thirty two million naira) only while the Pilot – in – Command (PIC) of the Aircraft, will pay N1,500,000 (One million five hundred thousand naira ) only.
According to the Letter, “during a Ramp Inspection on your Airbus A319 Aircraft with registration mark 5N-FNE at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA),it was discovered that the PIC was not in personal possession of a current medical certificate neither was it readily accessible.”Consequent upon this, a Letter Of Investigation[LOI] was sent to the Airline and the Pilot.
However, in their response, the Pilot admitted violating Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) while the Airline demonstrated lack of thorough knowledge of the requirements of the Regulations.
Therefore, the Airline has contravened the Regulations by allowing a flight crew member to be rostered to operate a total of 16 nos (sixteen) scheduled flights on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th November, 2016.
These operations were carried out while his medical certificate had expired since on the 1st November, 2016, thereby rendering his Pilot License subsequently invalid from that date.
In light of these, the Airline is hereby sanctioned in accordance with IS 1.3.3 (14) while the Pilot suffered similar fate in line with IS 1.3.3(11) (15) (e), in lieu of suspension under IS 1.3.3(11)(15)(a) of the Nig.CARs 2015.
On this strength, the Airline is required to pay a total sum of N32,000,000 (Thirty – two million naira) only while the Pilot will pay N1.5 million (One million and five hundred naira) only, being moderate civil penalty for the violation. The fine must however be paid within seven (7) days of receipt of the letter from the Authority.