Nigeria’s aviation minister, Senator Hadi Sirika, had on Monday corrected the name of the aircraft operator that was recently impounded for violating Nigeria’s commercial flight restrictions amid COVID-19. According to him, the correct name of the aircraft is Flairjet, not Flair Aviation as he had tweeted on Sunday.
Sirika made this correction during the Monday briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.
“I want to apologize that I tweeted in the afternoon (on Sunday) when the fasting was biting harder and we verified this as Flair Aviation. The correct name is Flairjet and it is UK registered company” he said during the briefing.
He added that Flairjet (B26QN) has an aircraft Legacy 600, with registration number GPRFX. The company has its business address at Business Aviation Centre, Terminal Road, Birmingham International Airport, West Midlands.
The company, according to Sirika, applied and received approval from the Ministry of Aviation to operate humanitarian flights. Unfortunately, the airline was later caught operating “conducting commercial flights”.
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, crew being interrogated. There shall be maximum penalty. Wrong time to try our resolve!🇳🇬
— Hadi Sirika (@hadisirika) May 17, 2020
“It is very clear at the beginning of this exercise that we defined what those flights should be: essential flights basically – cargo, medical evacuation, medical supplies, and so on and so forth.
“Unfortunately, this company, Flairjet decided to become commercial in their service, charging money and flying people in and out,” he further explained.
Sirika noted that this contravened the directives from the federal government, rendering the lockdown on interstate movement and flight operations pointless.
The aircraft’s crew had since been placed in 14-day quarantine, and investigations are still ongoing.
Earlier in the briefing, the NCDC DG, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, noted that the PTF is working on a way to let people return to their means of livelihood while ensuring a safe re-opening of the economy, including the aviation sector. He noted that consultations are on-going on how to allow a safe reopening of the airports as well as other sectors of the economy, when the country finally decides to end the lockdown.