First Nation suspends operations over low patronage on Kaduna route
Low passenger turnout on the Lagos-Kaduna-Lagos route has forced First Nation Airways to suspend operations.The airline that has lately been frequent on Lagos-Abuja-Lagos route, flying two Airbuses, said the market has not been the same since traffic was diverted to Kaduna International Airport, following the closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
However, a domestic airline and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have denied that the Kaduna route has low patronage and unprofitable for commercial operations.
Managing Director of Med-View, Muneer Bankole, yesterday said the airline was having a swell time with 80 to 90 per cent capacity for every Lagos-Kaduna flight.
The airline at the weekend added Kano to its Lagos-Kaduna-Kano frequencies to further maximize potentials of the market. Med-View has the second largest share of domestic traffic after Air Peace.
Director of Flight Operations at First Nation, Capt. Chimara Imediegwu, said the airline was not grounded, but temporarily shut down to save cost while re-programming its schedule.
Imediegwu said that suspension of the flight schedule was temporary, adding that the airline was working to resume its operations on March 28.According to him, “We decided to take this step in order not to continue to fly for flying sake and spending scarce resources due to drop in the number of passengers flying to Kaduna.
“So, it is not true that we grounded our operations due to lack of flight crew or any other factors,” he said.Spokesperson of the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, confirmed the development though denied that it was due to low patronage on the route.
Adurogboye said that the airline grounded its operations because it did not have certified flight crew at the moment.The airline had also in August 2016 voluntarily suspended operations for two months due to lack of operating aircraft.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has disclosed plans to construct a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja in the next 24 months.The Minister of State Aviation, Hadi Sirika, stated this while inspecting the Kaduna Airport in company of the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.
Sirika said, “So, yes there will be a second runway in Abuja. Hopefully within the next 24 months we will have a new runway. There is a second runway in Kano, a military runway, a second runway in Lagos, a second runway in Port Harcourt. ‘’
So they have second runways and I think the focus of government now within the limited resources is to do a second runway in Abuja. ‘’On whether other foreign carriers were now willing to join Ethiopian Airlines to operate into the Kaduna airport in the coming weeks, Sirika noted that he was still in talks with the carriers, but revealed that the government would use a domestic airline on the Kaduna-London route.
He said, “I’ve been discussing with British Airways and Lufthansa Airlines. I went to London, Frankfurt and their embassies and we’ve been discussing the possibility of starting operations out of Kaduna. That is still going on and I’ll make sure that the result is positive.’’
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