The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has accused the East African carrier, Ethiopian Airlines of gross abuse of the country’s court over its involvement in the static display of Nigeria Air aircraft.
AON is also asking the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the judiciary to sanction Ethiopian Airlines for flagrant disobedience of the court order and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs).
AON in a statement by Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, its Spokesman, said that Ethiopian Airlines failed to behave like a responsible corporate entity and allowed itself to be used as part of the “grand deception of Nigerians.”
The association emphasised that the airline was aware that the aircraft it landed in Abuja on Friday, May 26, 2023, didn’t belong to Nigeria Air and was not registered in Nigeria as required by the NCARs, yet flouted the country’s court order and Nigeria’s regulations.
AON added: “This goes to show that Ethiopia Airline operators have no iota of respect for our country, our laws, and regulatory agencies. It is our hope that Ethiopia Airlines does not get away with this disrespectful action.”
Besides, AON explained that the Ministerial Committee on the Establishment of a National Carrier recommended the setting up of a national airline that is private sector-driven with minimum government involvement.
The body accused Sirika of jettisoning the recommendation by personally driving the project from logo design, unveiling at the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom, establishment of the company, and providing offices for it among others.
It alleged that as soon as the recommendation was jettisoned, every other thing about Nigeria Air was engulfed in secrecy.
It also purported that Sirika had made an attempt to kill the entire indigenous operators and hand over the monopoly to Ethiopian Airlines in a “dubious and fraudulent way against the economic interest of Nigeria,” which it said compelled it to approach the court to stop the airline from berthing.
It added: “For us, it is a patriotic action to save the Nigerian Government, people, and economy from exploitation and to also protect the Nigerian aviation sector and our investments.
AON also lauded the NCAA, under the leadership of Capt. Musa Nuhu, its Director-General for not succumbing to pressure to issue an AOC to Nigeria Air.
AON declared that AOC was also a safety certificate by which the NCAA certifies that the holder had demonstrated that it is fit to conduct safe flight operations.
To achieve this, it said a prospective airline is put through a rigorous five-phase certification process before it is granted the certificate.
It emphasized that the implication of granting an AOC to Nigeria Air without it successfully going through the process was considered by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as a serious infraction, which is also punishable.
It explained that this act was capable of causing Nigeria to be blacklisted by aviation safety agencies like the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency).