NIGERIA – FirstNation Airline today failed to resume flight operations despite a corporate promise to do so. Our correspondent confirmed that FirstNation Airways, which suspended flight operations about three weeks ago and promised to return yesterday, failed to resume flights.
A source close to the airline blamed the development on the inability of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to clear some of the aircraft components imported into the country.
FirstNation’s director of Flight Operations, Captain Chimara Imediegwu, had told journalists last week in Lagos that the airline suspended operations due to inadequate equipment in its fleet.
He stated that two of the airline’s aircraft developed some snags, which affected operations, adding that the airline voluntarily grounded operations even briefing the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Before the suspension of flight operations, the airline had three Airbus 319 aircraft in its fleet.
A source told our correspondent, “Sequel to the discussion I had with the Managing Director of FirstNation Airways, Mr. Kayode Odukoya, I was told that Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) released the equipment needed to fix the airplanes belonging to the airline today.
“The airline had anticipated that all customs formalities would have been done last week Friday before the Sallah holidays. It is hoped that a team of engineers would finish work on the engines before Friday, September 16, 2016, as the airline plans to resume operations immediately after the engines are fixed.”
However, an aviation source confidentially informed our correspondent that the earliest time for the airline’s return would be sometime next week.
Mr. Imediegwu had vowed last week that FirstNation would recommence flight services today after he confirmed that only one of the three aircraft in the airline’s fleet was serviceable.
“We had a snag in one of our aircraft and not a C-Check as claimed in some quarters,” he had said. He added: “We carried out 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.
“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, no matter what happens.”
He, however, had mentioned instability in the nation’s political environment, poor economy, policy somersault and a sharp drop in the value of the naira, difficulty in obtaining foreign exchange and the scarcity of aviation fuel as some of the factors responsible for the dwindling fortunes of Nigeria’s carrier