The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has sanctioned a non-scheduled South African air carrier, Lyxor International, for operating illegally in Nigeria for over two months.
In its investigation, the NCAA discovered that the airline illegally flew into the country six times within the two-month period.
The South African carrier was also sanctioned for the 13 times it ought to have flown out of Nigeria within the period, but continued to operate illegally in Nigerian airspace without approved clearances.
The regulatory agency, in its Letter of Investigation (LOI), discovered that the non-scheduled operator violated the terms of its approved flight clearances for non-scheduled international air services.
The airline was sanctioned a combined sum of N9.5 million for all infractions.
A source close to one of the indigenous airlines confided in our correspondent that Lyxor usually enters Nigeria through Ghana and each time it enters the country, it is expected to stay within the clearance area. However, within the two-month period for which it is being sanctioned, the operators decided to use the aircraft for illegal commercial purposes in the country, which severely violated safety rules.
According to the NCAA, its Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI), on February 16, 2017, during a routine ramp inspection of the airline’s Bombardier Challenger CL605 aircraft, found it culpable of the infraction.
Immediately after the discovery, the aircraft with the registration number T7-YES was grounded by the ASI at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
In its Letter of Sanction, the NCAA explained that it found Lyxor International’s response to its Letter of Investigation inadequate.
In a press release, NCAA General Manager of Public Affairs Sam Adurogboye said that clear evidence from the flight records indicated that the aircraft was operating within Nigerian airspace in violation of its flight clearances between December 11, 2016 and February 15,, 2017.
The statement added: “Therefore, in accordance with IS 22.214.171.124. Table 2 viii (6) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig CARS 2015) you are hereby sanctioned for failure to comply with the conditions of approved flight clearances for non-schedule international air services. This provides for a moderate civil penalty of N500,000 per violation.
“The airline is hereby required to pay the sum of N6,500,000 (i.e., N500,000 x 13) for the thirteen times the aircraft ought to have flown out of Nigerian airspace in compliance with the approved clearances but was stationed in Nigeria.
“In addition, for the six times the aircraft violated the approved routes, the operator shall pay a moderate civil sanction of N3,000,000 (i.e., N500, 000 x 6).”
However, the aircraft was subsequently released after the payment of N3 million on volitional condition on account of possible civil sanctions.
The airline also signed an undertaking to henceforth comply with any sanction applicable as a result of the violation.