FG quarantines British aircraft pilots, to apply full sanctions

The Federal Government on Monday announced that the pilots of the impounded FlairJet aircraft would be quarantined for 14 days, adding that all necessary sanctions against the British aviation company would be applied to the fullest.

A Legacy 600 aircraft belonging to FlairJet with registration G-ERFX was impounded by the Federal Government at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos on Sunday for carrying out commercial flight operations despite the ban on such flights in Nigeria.

The PUNCH reported that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority had begun investigation into the matter, which was confirmed by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, while speaking on Monday at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.

The minister also stated the crew of the aircraft were all British nationals, as he stressed that investigations into the matter would be concluded soon.

In his address at the briefing, Sirika said, “On current status, we are investigating the matter right now and it will finish very soon. The pilots will be subjected to 14 days of quarantine. The aircraft is already impounded in Lagos.

“The crew are British nationals and the company, FlairJet, is a UK company and we will keep you posted on developments. And like I said, whatever is there in our laws will be applied to the fullest.”

Nigerian airports had been under lockdown to commercial flights for more than one month as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Sirika had announced the seizure of the FlairJet aircraft on the grounds that the impounded aircraft had no approval outside humanitarian operations, but was caught operating commercial flights.

At the briefing on Monday, the minister insisted that Nigerian airports were shut for the wellbeing of the citizens across the country, and wondered why any international carrier would defy the government’s orders.

“We believe that by doing this lockdown and stopping all these flights with all the consequences that it is bringing to us, it is for our wellbeing. So, this shouldn’t happen,” Sirika stated.