FirstNation postpones resumption of flight services
Scheduled flight services of FirstNation Airways may now resume next week, against the September 15 date earlier fixed by the airline.
The shift in date, The Guardian learnt, was not unconnected with delays encountered in fixing one of its aircrafts.
It would be recalled that the airline had last week disclosed plans to resume scheduled flight operations that were suspended on August 17 due to technical fault and maintenance requirements that could not be carried out as planned.
Inside sources disclosed that the Nigeria Customs Service only released the equipment needed to fix the airplanes a few days ago.
The source said, “The airline had anticipated that all customs formalities would have been done last week Friday before the Sallah holidays.
“It is hoped that the team of engineers would finish work on the engines before September 16 as the airline plans to resume operations immediately after the engines are fixed.’’
FirstNation Airway’s Director of Flight Operations, Capt. Chimara Imediegwu, recently told reporters that a team of engineers was coming to Nigeria to service the planes.
Imediegwu had debunked the claim that the airline was on the verge of folding up, stressing that it voluntarily grounded the aircraft at enormous cost to await the arrival of the manufacturer’s team.
“The FirstNation management planned well ahead and kept the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority informed of the progress on the maintenance of its aircraft.
“We notified passengers and flights are currently loaded online effective from September 15.
“This will ensure that passengers continue to enjoy safe and reliable services that the airline is reputed for,’’ he said.
Imediegwu explained that the challenges of sourcing foreign exchange with constantly changing Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) policies and Rate of Exchange (ROE) left the airline in a situation where aircraft parts could not be obtained when ordered. This is due to banks’ inability to transfer funds based on bids and maintenance schedules with external Maintenance and Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities. In the process, providers suffer the repeated failures of the bidding system, leading to several delays that domestic airlines could hardly bear.
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