May 24, 2020

Canada evacuation: Reps Aviation committee says use of Ethiopian Airline not acceptable

Our ordeal in the hands of Ethiopian Airline staff — Aggrieved passengers

File photo.

Summons PTF on COVID-19, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Aviation

By Lawani Mikairu

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, yesterday said the planned use of Ethiopian Airline, a foreign airline, to evacuate stranded Nigerians from Canada instead of Air Peace Airline earlier billed to evacuate them, would not be accepted by the House.

This was disclosed by the Chairman of the Aviation Committee, Honourable Nnolim Nnaji, while reacting to the persistent refusal of the Canadian Authorities to grant Air Peace Airline landing rights for the evacuation of stranded Nigerians in Canada.

He said the position of the House of Representatives was very clear on the issue of evacuation flights. He also explained that the House, in adopting the motion on the use of foreign airlines for the evacuation of stranded Nigerians in other countries, Tuesday, May 12, 2020, had urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Aviation, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and the Presidential Task Force, (PTF) on COVID-19 as well as all relevant Ministerial Departments and Agencies, (MDAs) to ensure that Nigerian Airlines enjoy the right of first refusal in all circumstances where Nigerians need to be evacuated from other countries.

ALSO READ: Why Canada denied landing rights to Air Peace

Nnaji insisted that the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Aviation and indeed the COVID-19 task force must explore all available diplomatic channels to ensure that a Nigerian airline operates the evacuation flight out of Canada.

The Canadian Government was alleged to have given preference to Ethiopian Airline for the evacuation of stranded Nigerians desiring to come home as against the Air Peace which the taskforce has already engaged for the evacuation.

Air Peace is charging USD$1,134 per passenger as against the sum of USD$2,500 charged by the Ethiopian Airline.

The Aviation Committee Chairman observed that Canadian Authorities had no reason to deny Air Peace landing right since available records had shown that the airline has the requite certification and approvals to operate internationally.

He further emphasised that findings have shown that Air Peace is an International Air Transport Association’s Safety Oversight Audit, (IOSA) certified which is a major international parameter for measuring airlines’ safety standards.

Honourable Nnaji also noted that there was a need for the Canadian Government to treat the flight as a special emergency occasioned by coronavirus pandemic and immediately grant the necessary approvals to Air Peace.

Meanwhile, the committee has summoned the COVID-19 taskforce and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Aviation and agencies directly or indirectly involved in the earlier evacuation flights handled by the British Airways, Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines from the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and America to appear before it on Thursday, May 28, 2020.