By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The Federal Government yesterday provided reasons why it impounded an aircraft owned by a British company.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, in a statement on Sunday via his Twitter handle, @hadisirika, said “the aircraft was found to be illegally operating passenger flights into Nigeria”.
Sirika said the company, Flair Aviation, only got approval to operate humanitarian flights, “but was caught operating commercial flights”.
The Minister disclosed that a fine would be imposed on the company for contravening federal government’s ban on commercial flights, as part of measures to curb the importation of coronavirus.
“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.
Since the outbreak of covid-19 pandemic, the international community had cancelled international flights, and imposed even very strict protocols for flights operating on humanitarian purposes or those authorized to evacuate stranded nationals.
Even if authorization is given, passengers aboard such aircrafts are usually subjected to the health standards put in place by the World Health Organisation (WHO), including quarantine for a minimum of 14 days, self-isolation, and routine checks for covid-19 virus on those aboard such aircraft.