The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), on Monday announced the suspension of all wet-leased aircraft operated by United Nigeria Airlines (UNA) following Sunday’s diversion of airlines’ passengers to Asaba International Airport instead of at their intended destination, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.
In the aviation sector, in a wet lease, an airline (the lessor) leases an aircraft, full crew, maintenance, and insurance (ACMI) to another airline or other kind of business operating as an air travel broker (the lessee); and the lessor gets paid based on the number of hours the aircraft is operated.
A source in the Authority who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed that “all of the wet lease aircraft operated by United Nigeria Airlines have been suspended.
“We didn’t buy their explanation, which was that the bad weather in Abuja was the reason for the detour to Asaba. Thus, we must make the bold decision to suspend any aircraft in their fleet that is being leased for a wet term.
“The aircraft will not be allowed to fly until an investigation is completed. This cannot be let to occur. The airline could have done more to educate its international crew members about Nigeria, as they are not native to the country. As a result, we are delaying their start until after the investigation”, the source added.
However, a statement issued by the NCAA, signed by its Director-General, Captain Musa Nuhu, did not confirm the suspension of the airline but only hinted that the authority had started investigating the Sunday flight’s saga.
“NCAA has commenced investigation into the circumstances surrounding United Nigeria flight NUA 0506 to Asaba and the confusion it has created in the public domain,” stated the statement provided.
“Nevertheless, in the interim while the inquiry continues, preliminary actions have been made. The Authority wants the traveling public to know that it will do everything in its power, as it has in the past, to guarantee the aviation industry’s continuous safety”, the Director-General added.