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Origin of impounded aircraft wrapped in controversy as more details emerge

DETAILS are still sketchy but Flair Aviation whose aircraft was on Sunday impounded by the Nigerian government is still under investigation for operating commercial flight into Nigeria, despite the airspace closure in the country due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Until thorough investigation is carried out the State of Ownership of the aircraft and the state of registration is yet to be determined as conflicting reports yesterday had it that the airline was from either Canada or the United Kingdom. Read also: FG quarantines pilot of impounded aircraft says airline is UK-based Fairjet

Information gathered by Nigerianflightdeck shows that the aircraft, a Legacy 600 with the registration number G-ERFX had 13 passengers’ seats and piloted by Capt. Andy Bell had applied for Humanitarian Evacuation to London in support of the Federal Government’s efforts to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 on May 12, 2020.

A document showed that the request was approved on May 13, 2020 by M.S. Noibi, the Director of Air Transport Management, Ministry of Aviation and notified all agencies available only to discover after it arrived that it was a commercial flight

The aircraft according to its flight plan was scheduled to depart London Stansted Airport on Saturday 17, 2020 at 08:00hrs with the flight number FLJ611 and six passengers onboard.

The aircraft had a first landing at Alcante El Abet Airport in Spain with six passengers at 12:25hrs.

From Spain, the jet departed for the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos with the same flight number: FLJ611 and landed at the airport with seven passengers at 13:05hrs under the guise of essential flight.

Also, the jet was scheduled to leave Nigeria with seven passengers to Alcante El Abet airport in Spain at 20:20hrs and was to be handled by Execujet Aviation Nigeria Ltd at the Lagos Airport.

It was in Nigeria that government officials discovered that the airline actually operated commercial flight into Nigeria with a plan to return with another seven passengers onboard.

On landing, the aircraft was immediately impounded by security officials while its cabin crew were immediately arrested and interrogated by security agencies who accused them of flouting the approval given to them by Nigerian authorities.

Sen. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation in his twitter handle monitored by our correspondent on Sunday, confirmed the development.

Sirika confirmed that the ministry gave the airline an approval for humanitarian operations only to be caught conducting commercial flights within the country.

He twitted: “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!”

About NigerianFlightDeck

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Nigerianflightdeck is an online news and magazine platform reporting business stories with a bias for aviation and travel. It is borne out of the intention to inform, educate as well as alter perceptions with balanced reportage.

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