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Safety: Keyamo justifies authority to suspend Dana Airlines, says aviation firm unfit to fly in Nigeria’s airspace

Photo Collage of Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, and Dana Air Aircraft Credit: Channels TV

*Festus Keyamo, SAN, Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, discloses Dana Airlines has been flying with an ‘unhealthy status’ in the country’s airspace for some time, stating that he is answerable to Nigerian consumers, and there is no political interference that removes powers of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to make safety regulations

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Against the backdrop of the recent suspension of the local aviation firm for a comprehensive audit after its airplane skidded off runway at Lagos Airport, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, Honourable Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, has disclosed Dana Airlines had been flying with an “unhealthy status” in the country’s airspace for some time.

ConsumerConnect Keyamo stated this while featuring in an interview aired on Channels TV Thursday, April 25, 2024, and monitored in Lagos.

The Minister stressed that an audit report carried out under his predecessor confirmed the airline’s unhealthy status.

It is recalled the Minister, during the week, had directed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to suspend the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) of Dana Airlines, grounding all its scheduled operations, barely 24 hours after a runway incident involving one of the airline’s flights from Abuja to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), in Lagos.

Keyamo, in a letter to the NCAA subsequently, directed aviation regulatory agency to impose the sanction.

However, the move has attracted some criticisms and commendations from some Nigerians and groups as regards the propriety or otherwise of the Minister’s directive to suspend the firm.

He as well clarified that the internal reports from an audit executed two years ago indicated that Dana Air was unfit to fly.

According to him, the consistent incidents experienced by the airline made him call for a suspension after the recent accident in Lagos.

The Minister also said he never wrote to the airline, but instructed the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, as the industry’s regulator, to do so.

Keyamo explained: “Before I came into office, I am sure you have heard consistent incidents involving perhaps Dana Airlines, to mention a few of them. I am sure you heard that, at a point, on approach to the runway, the door flew open.

“I am sure you know that popular incident. Who are the engineers that are supposed to look at this? Who are the engineers that are supposed to check for the safety of the aircraft and its parts?

“There are also incidents involving one or two of its aircraft at different times, consistent. Of course, after the fatal crash of Dana, the other time that killed Nigerians.”

I have power to direct NCAA to suspend Dana Air over infractions, says Minister

Minister Keyamo also affirmed, during the interview that his office is statutorily empowered to direct the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority to suspend airlines over infractions in the industry.

He said, “Section 26 says that I can direct them. As a matter of policy according to the section, I can direct the NCAA to do the right thing in matters of national security.

“National security is wide enough to cover the health and safety of Nigerians. Section 28 says they have powers of regulations. This is not regulation. It is a matter of doing your work.”

Keyamo further clarified: “Let me tell you the intent of those sections. It says the NCAA should not be doing something towards safety. And political interference says that please grant this person a pass or waive this for this person.

“There would not be political interference that endangers the lives of Nigerians and removes the powers of the NCAA to make safety regulations.

“However, the reverse is the case here because the Minister is telling you please put safety measures in place.”

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