By Chibuike Nwabuko
ABUJA (SundiataPost) – The Federal Government has impounded an aircraft owned by a British company for operating commercial flights into Nigeria without approval.
Aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, made this known on Sunday via his Twitter handle, @hadisirika.
He said the company, Flair Aviation, was authorised to conduct humanitarian flights but was caught operating commercial flights.
Sirika explained that in addition to the confiscated aircraft, a “penalty” would be imposed on the company for the contravention of FG’s ban on commercial flights as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.
“COVID-19. Flair Aviation, a UK company, was given approval for humanitarian operations but regrettably, we caught them conducting commercial flights. This is callous! The craft is impounded, the crew being interrogated. There shall be maximum penalty. Wrong time to try our resolve,” the minister tweeted.
Recall that as a way of containing the spread of COVID-19 in the Nigeria, the country’s airports and airspace were shut in March by President Muhammadu Buhari.
With the announcement, commercial flight operations, both local and international, had stopped forthwith.
Although general flights had since stopped, the President’s directive allowed essential flights including those for medical and evacuation purposes, amongst others, which are subject to the authorisation of the Federal Ministry of Aviation and agencies under it.
On May 6, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, announced that the closure of the country’s airports and airspace were further extended by four weeks after due consultations with experts.