NCAA Suspends UNA Wet-Leased Aircraft After Diversion Debacle

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By Milcah Tanimu

In response to the recent incident where a United Nigeria Airlines (UNA) flight was diverted to Asaba instead of Abuja, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended the airline’s wet-leased aircraft. The suspension will remain in effect pending an investigation into the incident.

1. **Investigation and Suspension:**
– The decision to suspend the wet-leased aircraft was communicated to UNA’s Chief Operating Officer through an official letter from the NCAA.
– The incident, which involved the diversion of the aircraft to Asaba International Airport instead of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, triggered the regulatory body’s investigation.

2. **Contradictory Explanations:**
– The airline had claimed that the diversion was due to poor weather conditions in Abuja. However, the NCAA found the explanation insufficient and contradictory to information obtained from Air Traffic Controllers.

3. **Unacceptable Crew Familiarity:**
– The crews operating the wet-leased aircraft were reported to be foreigners, lacking familiarity with Nigeria. This factor, coupled with the airline’s inadequate explanation, led to the suspension until the investigation concludes.

4. **Swift Regulatory Response:**
– Capt. Musa Nuhu, the Director-General of Civil Aviation, promptly called for an emergency meeting following the incident, leading to the unanimous decision to suspend the wet-leased aircraft.

5. **UNA’s Initial Statement:**
– UNA, in its initial statement, attributed the diversion to poor weather in Abuja and stated that the pilot temporarily diverted the flight to Asaba. The cabin crew’s wrong announcement upon landing in Asaba was acknowledged, leading to passenger confusion.

The suspension of the wet-leased aircraft is a significant regulatory response aimed at ensuring accountability and investigating the circumstances surrounding the diversion debacle. The airline’s operations will be closely scrutinized during the investigative process.

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