The Federal Government has impounded a Boeing 777 jumbo plane belonging to the Angolan government at the Lagos airport for flying illegally into Nigeria.
The government grounded the passengers-laden plane and subsequently impounded it, shortly after touching down in the country on Wednesday afternoon.
The jumbo jet belongs to Angola Airlines, a state-owned airline and flag carrier of the Angolan government.
It was learnt that the plane flew into the country without the requisite and mandatory approvals from the Nigerian authorities.
Aviation sources said the jet which was flown into the country purportedly to evacuate stranded Angolan citizens in Nigeria was found to be carrying fee-paying passenger.
However, the number of passengers on board the over 300-seater plane could not be ascertained as of the time of filing this report on Thursday night.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has commenced further investigation into the matter, it was learnt.
The Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, Mr. James Odaudu, could not be reached for comments as of the time of filing this report. Several calls made to his line did not connect. Also, a response to a text message sent to his line was still being awaited.
However, multiples sources from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Aviation confirmed the development on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak on the matter.
On August 2, 2020, PUNCH reported how some foreign airlines contracted by foreign missions to evacuate stranded citizens from Nigeria were also used to convey passengers at an extra fee.
The newspaper also reported how charter airlines flew rich Nigerians to and from London as well as other overseas destinations despite a ban on international flights by the Federal Government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Tuesday announced the resumption of international flights effective from August 29, subject to the readiness of foreign and international airlines to comply with certain COVID-19 regulations stipulated by the health and aviation authorities.
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The Federal Government had in March closed the nation’s airports for international flights as the coronavirus pandemic cases rose in the country.
In place of this, the government approved only evacuation and essential/emergency flights which are meant to be operated after necessary inter-governmental approvals.
In March this year, the Federal Government fined a British charter carrier, FlairJet, for violating some sections of Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Regulations.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the carrier was also reported to stipulated authorities in the United Kingdom.
The Legacy 600 aircraft belonging to FlairJet with registration G-ERFX was impounded by the Federal Government at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos for conducting commercial flight operations despite the ban on such flights in Nigeria.
After impounding the aircraft, the Federal Government quarantined the pilots and other crew members for 14 days, and declared that all necessary sanctions against the British aviation company would be applied.