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Nigerian govt impounds British aircraft for operating illegal commercial flights into Nigeria

The Federal Government has impounded an aircraft owned by a British company for illegally operating passenger flights into Nigeria.

Minister of Aviation, Alhaji Hadi Sirika, said on Sunday via his Twitter handle, @hadisirika that the company, Flair Aviation, was authorised to conduct humanitarian flights but was caught operating commercial flights.

Sirika explained that in addition to the confiscated aircraft, a “penalty” would be imposed on the company for the contravention of the federal government’s ban on commercial flights as part of measures to curb the importation of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“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, the crew being interrogated. There shall be maximum penalty. Wrong time to try our resolve,” the Minister tweeted.

Nigeria’s airports and airspace were shut in March by President Muhammadu Buhari as part of efforts to contain the pandemic, effectively stopping all commercial flight operations, both local and international.

Although general flights had since stopped, the President’s directive allowed essential flights including those for medical and evacuation purposes, amongst others, which are subject to the authorisation of the Federal Ministry of Aviation and agencies under it.

Furthermore, on May 6, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, announced that the closure of the country’s airports and airspace were further extended by four weeks, after due consultations with experts.

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