By Simon Ateba/Lagos
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, on Monday said it has suspended all operations to Nigeria by ASky Airline, the airline that flew the Liberian suspected to have died of the Ebola virus in Lagos Last week.
Engr. Benedict Adeyileka, the Acting Director General of the NCAA said the suspension takes place with immediate effect.
The Ag.DG said the regulatory authority has to take this action to protect Nigerians from the deadly Ebola virus which is ravaging some parts of East and Central Africa.
A-Sky Airline is an important player in the West, East and Central Africa operating 80 flights into Lagos and Abuja weekly.
“The Airline flew the Liberian who was obviously infected with the virus into Lagos, Nigeria which has created panic and diverted world attention to Nigeria.
“The passenger has since died and the Country Manager of the ASky invited to the Aviation House to offer explanation to the Authority on the incident and show evidence of actions taken by the airline since the pandemic in their core areas of operation and after.
“The Airline representative could not offer any conclusive or substantial evidence neither did he demonstrate any capacity to be able to prevent a reoccurrence or possibly ship loading Ebola victims to Nigeria,” NCAA said in a statement.
The agency added: ”This is contrary to the provision of Article 14 of the Chicago Convention,1944, which states that “Each contracting State agrees to take effective measures to prevent the spread by means of air navigation, of cholera, typhus (epidemic),smallpox, yellow fever, plague and such other communicable diseases as the contracting state shall from time to time decide to designate…..”
It quoted the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as also prescribing measures (Standard Practices) in Annex 9 to the Convention which a state must take to prevent the spread of communicable disease in the event of an outbreak.
“Annex 11 (Air Traffic Services) and Annex 14 (Aerodromes, Volume 1- Aerodrome Design and Operations) require air traffic services and aerodromes to establish contingency planning or aerodrome emergency plans, respectively for public health emergencies of international concern.
“The Acting Director General and the top management of NCAA therefore decided that the lives of millions of Nigerians were too precious to be risked on a platter of negligence of an airline.”
Based on that, NCAA said, the Airline operations have been suspended with immediate effect until it is able to sufficiently and evidently prove that adequate machinery is in place to provide adequate screening of passengers in all their points of operation including profiling of each passenger.
The agency said Adeyileka has directed the Directorate of Air Transport Regulation (DATR) to proceed to write a letter of investigation to the airline. In the same vein, Arik Air which had earlier suspended their flights to Monrovia and Freetown has been advised to maintain the cessation of flights until cleared by NCAA.
The Authority will also write to other airlines operating into and out of Nigeria to ensure they put in place all necessary preventive measures during screening of passengers which will include indicating countries earlier visited by the passengers.