FOR the third time, the aviation sector regulator has indefinitely suspended the operations of Dana Airlines. The carrier has had the unfortunate record of being accident-prone in recent history.
Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, on Wednesday 20, July 2022, issued a statement freezing Dana Air’s Transport Operating Licence, ATL, and Air Operator Certificate, AOC, sequel to the latest “air return” incident involving one of its aircraft at the Abuja Airport. The suspension was made pursuant to Sections 3a, 3b and 4 of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs), 2015. The NCAA said the action followed an economic health audit and investigation of the airline’s flight operations.
The operators of the airline have consistently shown their cavalier attitude to safety which led to the deadliest air crash in Nigeria’s history. On June 3, 2012, the McDonnel Douglas MD83 from Abuja en route Lagos crashed in the Iju area, just three minutes to the Lagos Airport. All 153 passengers and six crew perished along with unnamed number of fatalities on ground. The aircraft had suffered twin engine failures. Nigerians were shocked when, a few months later, Dana Air returned to business.
Aero Inside.com, a specialised aviation sector website, has detailed other serious incidents involving the airline since. These include the Dana MD83 incident of mid-air engine shutdown on October 6, 2013 in Port Harcourt; fuel leak on November 17, 2015 (P/H); collision with power-line June 3, 2012 (Lagos) and runway “excursion” landing, January 23, 2019 (P/H). Others are: runway overrun by 300 metres, February 20, 2018 (P/H)); loss of nose wheel steering on September 30, 2019 (Owerri); abortion of take-off due to tyre fire, May 2 (P/H); and engine failure, July 19, 2022, Abuja with 100 passengers on board.
Dana Airline’s poor safety record contrasts sharply with those of Chanchangi, First Nation and Aero which maintained impeccable safety records till they suspended operations. Also, Azman, Arik, Max Air and Air Peace have kept their safety records intact, in spite of the highly challenging operational environment.
Dana has tried to remain in business at all cost. We call on the NCAA never to allow this airline to reopen shop in the interest of the lives and property of air travellers. The rope given Dana Airlines by the regulator was too long. It should have been stopped long ago.
The Federal Government should hasten to the assistance of other airlines to stem the burgeoning distress setting into the sector. Operating costs, especially the cost of fuelling aircraft, have gone through the roof. Passengers are paying through their noses and passenger traffic is shrinking. The airlines are gasping for air. Sadly, the nation’s oldest and safest airline, Aero Contractors, recently suspended operations.
The industry needs a bailout to avoid disasters.