Struggling Nigerian carrier, Med-View Airline has suspended international operations while also reducing regional routes on its flight schedule to just two cities.
A source close to the airline confided in our correspondent on Tuesday that the airline, which once had about six aircraft in its fleet has suspended flight operations to Gatwick, London, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
It was gathered that the airline suspended flight operations to London and Jeddah in February this year, while it had earlier in January stopped operations to Dubai.
The airline had in November 2015 commenced operations to London and by December of that year, started Jeddah route.
But its operations to Dubai which began in November 2017 lasted just two months as the airline suspended flight to the route in January 2018.
In the sub-region, the airline has suspended operations to Dakar (Senegal), Accra (Ghana) and Abidjan (Cote D’Ivoire), but still operates skeletal flights to Monrovia (Liberia) and Freetown (Sierra Leone).
On the suspension of operations to Accra, SaharaReporters reliably gathered that the airline was indebted to the Ghanaian authorities, which had threatened to impound its aircraft if it operates into its airspace.
The source said: “It’s bad that Med-View like its predecessors is going down. The airline now owes fueler, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), several organizations that render service to it, including a company that supplies it with onboard menus. This is so bad.
“Because of inadequate aircraft in its fleet, it has to stop operations to London, Jeddah and Dubai even though he boasted that it would return to Dubai by the end of last months. The company is yet to do so. Most of the lessors have to retrieve their aircraft from the airline when it could not meet its contractual obligations with those companies and all these are happening despite being quoted on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).”
Besides, it was gathered that the number of aircraft in the fleet of the airline has reduced to two from six.
Investigations carried out by SaharaReporters indicated that the two remaining aircraft in the fleet are two Boeing 737-400, which it uses for local operations.
One of the aircraft according to an investigation is with the registration number 5N-MAA, which was delivered to it in February 2015.
It leased the aircraft, which was manufactured in December 1997 from Thai Airways International. The aircraft is now 20 years and four months.
The second aircraft, another B737-400 with the registration number 5N-MAB was equally leased from Thai Airways International.
It was also delivered to the company in April 2015 and like the 5N-MAA, it was manufactured in December 1997, which also puts its age at 20 years and four months. The aircraft has the configuration number: C12Y137 while its engine number is 2x CFM56-3.
It was gathered that the problem of the airline started when it could not secure aircraft to continue operations to its many routes.
Managing Director of the airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, had said that it suspended operations on the Dubai route following inadequate equipment.
He said the airline was having some challenges with its European partner, Euro Atlantic on the leased aircraft, stressing that on the lease agreement the company had with the lessor, there was a provision for a backup aircraft, which the foreign company has not been able to fulfill.
He posited further that passengers who had booked with the airline between now and March would be flown to their destinations through interline arrangement.
The airline, which is the sole Nigerian carrier on NSE claimed to have earned $5m profit in the past financial year, but the airline is also hugely indebted to various organizations including the Things Remember, the catering service that supplies it onboard refreshment.