Grounding of Azman, another attack on northern viability – Jirgi

Veteran journalist and public affairs commentator Alhaji Ibrahim Jirgi, has lamented the suspension of Azman Air operations saying it is more of aviation power than economic or political power.

Jirgi said continued suspension of the airlines’ operations has put Northern Nigeria at the receiving end.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Monday, Jirgi, who is a member of the 2015 All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council from Yobe state, insisted that the North is grounded totally with the prolonged downing of Azman Air by the Aviation Authorities, leaving only MaxAir flying few routes.

Nigerian carrier Azman Air has been ordered to suspend Boeing 737 operations in order to undergo a safety audit.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of the NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu told aviation Correspondents in Lagos that it is working with the airline to resolve the issue preparatory to its resumption of normal flight operations.

Capt Nuhu said “As I am talking to you, our team met with the Azman Air team and we had a very good discussion. We told them what the issues were. We have written them before that and they responded. And we said we need to sit down with them. We had a virtual meeting.”

“We had a very good discussion and they went through each of the issues one by one. I must tell you the response we had from Azman has been very encouraging and very positive. They are taking all what we have explained to them. Now they understand it is even better for them to improve their business model. I have seen a shift and I can guarantee you that by the time Azman complies with all what we want, the public will see a different Azman airline.”

The NCAA says the measure – which takes effect from 15 March – affects all 737s across the airline’s fleet.

It states that the decision follows a “series of incidents” with Azman 737s. The airline uses older variants including the 737-300 and -500.

Jirgi, who is also the Managing Director of Triple CEE Multimedia said, “The whole region is suffering as a result of the measures imposed by the aviation authorities more than a month now.”

He noted that most northern routes are now left with only one airline or none at all, listing Gombe, Kebbi, Sokoto, Kaduna, Yola as worst hit while, Maiduguri, Kano, Bauchi, Jos, and Katsina are coping with only the services of MAX Air.

He called on the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika to urgently act to review the safety stand so that the vital services denied the North will be restored.

Jirgi regretted that with Azman Air grounded, flight fares have also soared to unpredictable proportions as demand far outweighs the service supply.

“It is sad that air fares have increased by over 300-percent on most northern routes while reservations are made about four to 20 days in advance for flights from Kano to Abuja or Abuja to Maiduguri or Bauchi to Abuja.

“It is unfortunate for the North to be suffering at this crucial time when its security situation is completely jeopardised.

“The entire Aviation leadership is in the hands of a Northerner, but regrettably left in the hands of touts,” Jirgi said.

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