The Nigerian government said it has placed crew members of Flairjet, a British airline company under a 14-day quarantine.
Following the ban on commercial flights in the country, Flairjet was given the approval to operate only ‘humanitarian’ flights during the lockdown.
The airline, however, flouted the licence, according to the federal government.
The minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, had announced on Sunday via his verified Twitter handle, @hadisirika, that the aircraft belonging to the airline was impounded for operating commercial flights into Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
Mr Sirika, while speaking at the daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on Monday, said the airline was granted permission to operate only humanitarian flights.
“They however turned to become commercial in their service by charging money to fly people in and out,” he said. “This company applied and asked to operate humanitarian flight which we did approve, and it was obvious at the beginning of this lockdown; we defined essential flights which include; cargo, medical evacuation, medical supplies, and others.”
“But unfortunately, this company turned to become commercial in their service and they were charging money to fly people in and out,” he said.
Mr Sirika said the pilot and crew will be subjected to 14-day quarantine.
He also said the federal government would apply everything in the law to ensure a speedy and accurate investigation of the matter.
“In the first place, we believe that the whole essence of the lockdown is to ensure that there is no movement of persons freely because the outbreak of COVID-19.
“So this should not happen.The pilot (and crew) will be subjected to 14-day quarantine while the investigation is on,” he said.
He also said the aircraft has been impounded in Lagos.
The minister also hinted that plans are ongoing to get 100 per cent demurrage waivers for businesses in the aviation sector.
He said the demurrage applicable in the maritime sector would be applicable in the aviation sector soon to reduce the financial loss experienced in the aviation sector.
”SAHCOL and NAHCO are private clearing agencies. The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) does not share in the revenue from demurrage, nothing goes to them at all,” he explained. “As regulators of the industry, we thought that we should intervene and try to see what we can do to bring peace and to promote both businesses.”
“That resulted in the two companies giving 80 per cent waiver on demurrage charges but we are still negotiating on the (remaining) 20 per cent,” he said.