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Illegal flight charter operations spark outrage

In the wake of last Friday’s runway incursion by a private jet in Ibadan Airport, there is a raging concern in the aviation industry over…

In the wake of last Friday’s runway incursion by a private jet in Ibadan Airport, there is a raging concern in the aviation industry over illegal charter operations in Nigeria’s airspace, Daily Trust can report.

Following the development, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has launched a comprehensive audit of private jet operators as some of them deviate from their terms of operation.

The serious incident in Ibadan involved a Challenger 601-3R aircraft with Nationality and Registration Marks N580KR operated by Mattini Air, which occurred at about 1055am (Local Time) on 26th January, 2024.

The aircraft, with 12 passengers and three crew members onboard was en-route Ibadan from Abuja.

According to the NCAA, the Mattini Airline Services Limited holds a valid Permit for Non-Commercial Flight (PNCF).

Following “a commercial enquiry” into the operation, the NCAA suspended the operation “Pending the determination of the conditions upon which the aircraft operated.”

Stakeholders say the Mattini Air incident has exposed the wave of illegal flight charters in Nigeria by private airline operators.

Our correspondent reports that there are designated air charter operators with the requisite permits and paying the required charges to NCAA and the service providers.

Checks on flight radar indicated that the aircraft involved in Friday’s incident has been operating charter services illegally against the terms of its permit, which is “non-commercial.”

The aircraft’s previous trips showed it had been operating charter flights between Lagos and Abuja despite not having the commercial permit.

Stakeholders say the discovery was a “clear case of abuse.”

However, the NCAA has vowed to get to the root of the matter while initiating an audit of private jet operations.

Also, the acting Director-General of Civil Aviation, Capt. Chris Najomo has advised passengers to verify licences of operators before chartering to avoid taking risks.

He clarified that PNCF holders can only use their aircraft for private, non-commercial purposes as carrying passengers, cargo, or mail for hire is strictly prohibited.

Speaking with our correspondent, General Secretary of Aviation Roundtable, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo said for any private jet operator to carry out commercial operation, it must secure appropriate permits.

He said while it could not be ascertained whether the passengers paid, the NCAA has a responsibility to get to the root of the matter and “See how they can curb these incessant route flights.”

He said the registered charter operators should work with the NCAA to address the raging issue.

Group Capt. John Ojikutu, an aviation security expert said, “The NCAA must urgently conduct an audit on all the foreign aircraft within the country now to know how and when they got into the country, the limit of their entry and exit clearance, if their stay was within the Security Clearance and if such clearance permits the aircraft to be conducting commercial or chartered services.”

Aviation analyst, Prof. Anthony Kila said the government must be able to whip the illegal charter operators into line and ensure they carry out the due diligence of registration.


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