Grace Bosede, Abuja – The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has suspended Azman Air, over its failure to renew its Air Operator Certificate (AOC).


The suspension is coming few months after the NCAA, suspended the AOC of Dana Air over frequent incidents.


Azman Air, was granted AOC in May 2014, by the NCAA following a two-year-long certification process. The airline commenced flight services immediately with its inaugural flight to Kano from Lagos.


The document issued to Azman Air, allowed it to operate as a passenger, cargo, scheduled and charter flight operator. The certificate is renewed every two years in Nigeria by the NCAA.


Azman Flight Operations Grounded due to N1.2bn debt – NCAA


Confirming the new development, Director General, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, in a chat with newsmen on Thursday, said the operations of the airline had been grounded for failure to renew its ATL despite several attempts by the NCAA.


Captain Nuhu said with the suspension of the Azman ATL, its Airline Operators Certificate, AOC has been made invalid.


Giving further explanation to the suspension, the NCAA said the ATL expired in 2021 and the airline made an appeal for 90 days extension, which was granted, followed by another 30 days which expired Wednesday, 14th September, 2022.


Captain Nuhu disclosed that Azman airline owes the NCAA N1.2 billion of unremitted Passenger Service Charge, PSC, and Cargo Service Charge, CSC and until that payment is made, the airline’s ATL will not be renewed.


He said all airlines indebted to the NCAA have been urged to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, on the amount to be paid monthly to offset their debts, but unfortunately, Azman air has yet to sign the MoU before the expiration of its ATL.


The PSC and CSC are collected on behalf of the NCAA by the airlines and are expected to be remitted to the agency.


Currently, no staff of the airline resumed work at the airport and its offices today in Lagos due to the recent developments.


The grounding of Azman Air will make it the third domestic airline that would stop operations in Nigeria’s airspace in less than two months.


In July 2022, NCAA suspended Dana Airlines’ Air Transport Licence (ATL) and Air Operator Certificate (AOC) indefinitely, with effect from midnight of Wednesday, 20th July, 2022.


The suspension was made pursuant to Section 35(2), 3(b), and (4) of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006, and Part of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs), 2015.


Similarly, the country’s oldest airline, Aero Contractors on July 18, 2022, announced the airline’s decision to suspend part of its flight operations, particularly scheduled commercial operations.


According to the airline, the decision was a result of the challenging operating environment it faced daily.


The airline said the situation was made worse as some of its aircraft were undergoing maintenance and were unavailable for use.


It was also gathered that before the regulatory agency suspended the operating license of the airline, the Directorate of Air Transport Regulation (DATR), a department in NCAA, had written a reminder letter to the management of Azman Air and issued it 30-days ultimatum to comply with the industry standards, but failed to comply.


This development has however, led to massive chaos at the nation’s airports as passengers who had hitherto booked with the airline to travel to various destinations are currently stranded.


At the Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), Lagos Airport, passengers of the airline were stranded as they could not fly to their destinations with the airline as planned.


Mostly affected were 6:30a.m passengers of the airline from Lagos to Abuja, while its Lagos-Kano air travellers were also caught in the web of crisis.


Some of the passengers were seen at the MMA2, making frantic efforts to purchase air tickets of another airline in order to continue with their journey as planned, while others insisted on getting a refund from the airline’s counter staff, but failed.


Apart from Lagos, it was also gathered that hundreds of passengers of the airline were stranded in Abuja, Kano and Kaduna airports.


One of the affected passengers, Idris Aliyu, said the airline never informed them of the suspension of operations.


According to him, he had arrived at the airport at 5:20a.m for a 6:30am flight to Abuja, but was surprised when the counter staff of the airline told him and others that the flight had been cancelled without any cogent reason.


He said: “I came as early as possible to the airport to catch a flight to Abuja for an early morning meeting I have in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), but I was surprised when I was told I cannot travel. There is so much chaos at this airport right now.


“No one was informed of this development by the airline. I think in a sane society, passengers would have been informed earlier so that they can make alternative arrangements, but that is not the case here.


“In fact, I wanted to buy another ticket to Abuja now so that I could catch up with my scheduled appointment, but the fare is outrageous. Some of them now sell their tickets at N100,000 and above and this is just a one-way ticket.”