The entire fleet of Air Nigeria, one of the country’s thriving indigenous airlines, has been grounded to allow the regulatory Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to audit the Nigeria flag carrier, the local media reported Wednesday.
The report quoted NCAA spokesman Sam Adurogboye as saying: “It is a routine action to enable us look at the airline’s operations before allowing it to go back to operations again, having been on strike for days. This is normal.”
The airline’s pilots and engineers, under the umbrella National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), have recently called off the strike they called to press for better welfare.
“I want to announce here officially that the strike was called off and our members went back to work and the airline was not grounded due to safety reasons as we did communicate to the press, but due to welfare package,” NAAPE President Isaac Balami said.
The audit of Air Nigeria comes shortly after the 3 June crash of a McDonnell Douglas 83 plane operated by local DANA Air, which killed all 153 passengers and crew on board and six persons on ground.
The crash has raised concerns over the age and maintenance of the aircraft being operated by Nigerian airlines.
A former top staff of Air Nigeria recently warned Nigerians against patronising the airline, saying it has a poor maintenance record.
In a stinging public statement, Mr. John I. Nnorom, a former Executive Director for Finance at Air Nigeria, said the airline was in a financial mess, hence could not put its planes in top shape.
“While passengers are waiting, engineers are battling to put the aircraft on air. Several times our aircraft on runway taxing to takeoff, turns back to offload passengers due to some technical faults observed by Pilots,” he said.