Nigeria’s Aviation Minister Stella Oduah has defended the government’s decision to lift the suspension slammed on the local Dana Air following the 3 June crash of one of its plane on the outskirts of the commercial city of Lagos that left at least 159 dead.
Speaking in a television interview monitored by PANA in Lagos Friday, the minister said grounding an airline just because it suffered a crash negated the international practice in the sector.
She said the proper thing to do when such crashes occur was to put aside the particular type of aircraft involved and carry out an investigation before issuing an indictment.
”You segment, segregate and then investigate,” the minister said.
Ms. Oduh however said Dana Air has some ”pre-requisites” to meet before taking to the skies again. She did not say what the conditions were.
The minister was reacting to criticism from families of the victims of the crash, who said the government acted in haste by asking the airline to resume operations, especially when the cause of the crash has yet to be established and the affected families fully compensated.
”The wounded hearts are still bleeding and they have not been taken into consideration,” said Obinna Ajuonuma, son of Mr. Levi Ajuonuma who died in the crash.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Aviation announced the lifting of the suspension of Dana Air’s operating licence, saying it follows government’s satisfaction with the air-worthiness of the airline after a rigorous technical, operational and financial audit of the airline.
The regulatory Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) announced the suspension of Dana Air’s operating licence a day after the crash, saying the action was taken to ensure unhindered investigations into the crash, the worst in the country in two decades.
The ill-fated Dana MD-83 plane was just about three minutes to landing at the Murtala Mohammed Airport in the commercial city of Lagos, after about one-hour flight from the inland capital city of Abuja, when it crashed into a densely populated area, shortly after declaring an emergency.
A preliminary report of the accident by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) said the crash was due to ”a total loss of power in both engines while on approach to Muhammed Murtala Airport (LOS), Lagos.”
Aviation stakeholders have also hailed the government’s decision to lift the suspension, while Dana Air has said it will soon announce the resumption of its operations.