August 24, 2017: Nigerian Airline FirstNation Airways has announced that it will go back to scheduled services by the fourth quarter of 2017. According to news reports, a statement signed by the CEO of the Airline Rasheed Yusuf said the airline is currently pursuing a fleet expansion programme.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, had recently downgraded the Certificate of Airworthiness of FirstNation Airways from a scheduled operator to charter operator over alleged violation of safety procedures. The carrier was recently hit with a safety violation when it was found that one of its pilots had allowed his medical certificate to lapse. It later lost an appeal, and must now pay a penalty of NGN32 million (USD88,400).
Speaking with journalists in Lagos earlier this week, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Director General Muhtar Usman said the regulator had instituted the measure until First Nation had increased its fleet size to at least two operational aircraft. “So, they are no longer into scheduled service until they can meet the requirement for scheduled service,” he said highlighting that the measure was not punitive, but rather corrective.
According to the official statement by the airline stated that the airworthiness status had not been downgraded, adding that it has only renewed its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) for charter services.
“Our Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) fell due for renewal on July 31st, 2017, this is the third successful renewal that we have achieved working in good faith with regulatory authorities,” the airline said.
“The renewal process entailed subjecting our operations to rigorous and demanding audit processes covering all areas of our activity. Well before the AOC renewal, we voluntarily reduced our flight frequency to well within the capacity of our current fleet. The AOC was successfully renewed for charter operation, and we have contracts for sales distributions. We thus remain committed to the highest level of safety standard in line with global industry best practises. FirstNation is currently working on a fleet expansion program, and we are confident that we will expand to schedule operation during the fourth quarter of 2017.”
The airline says it is ‘working with the NCAA concerning the outcome of its recent appeal.
First Nation Airways has been operating with just one aircraft for more than a year. Of the pair of A319-100s it leases from AerCap, only 5N-FNE (msn 660) is active, with 5N-FND (msn 647) languishing in maintenance since August 2016.