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Foreign lessors set to repossess Air Nigeria planes

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Renowned United States-based aircraft leasing company, General Electric Commercial Aviation Services, has written Air Nigeria stating its intention to repossess four Boeing 737-300 planes currently in the carrier’s fleet.

The Chief Executive Officer, Air Nigeria, Mr. Kinfe Kahssaye, who made the disclosure in a telephone conversation with our correspondent on Wednesday, said the move followed the grounding of the airline’s domestic and regional operations by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

The aviation industry regulator had about two weeks ago stopped Air Nigeria’s domestic and regional operations over allegations of financial distress.

Kahssaye, who said the airline had given GECAS permission to go ahead with the repossession, however said the airline owned eight other airplanes, which would be used for its operations as soon as the NCAA lifted the suspension order on its domestic and regional operations.

He said, “GECAS has written to us, telling us they want to repossess their four Boeing 737-300 planes in our fleet. And we have told them no problems, they could go ahead. You know GECAS has been so concerned that our planes have been on the ground for too long following the grounding of our domestic and regional operations by NCAA about two weeks ago.

“So, they are in the process of repossessing the planes. You know the Cape Town Convention allows foreign lessors to repossess their planes whenever they want to. So, they are in the process of doing that.”

“We have 12 planes in our fleet. There are eight other planes still in our fleet. So, we can still work with these,” he added.

Air Nigeria had claimed that the suspension was not affecting its international operations, specifically its Lagos-London service.

It said the international flights, being operated in partnership with Egypt Air, were still in operation.

Asked if the reduction in the number of planes would mean some employees would be laid off, the Air Nigeria CEO said yes.

He, however, said he did not know the number of employees that would be affected as a result of the development.

“Definitely, when there is reduction in the number of planes, there will be reduction in staff number. So, we are in the process but we don’t know the number of people that will be laid off,” he said.

A statement later released by the airline also confirmed the development.

The statement, signed by the Media Relations Manager, Air Nigeria, Mr. Sam Ogbogor, read, “Subsequent to the temporary suspension of Air Nigeria’s regional and domestic flight operations by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, our lessors have been requesting to repossess some of the aircraft in our fleet and we are fully cooperating to return their aircraft.

“GECAS, one of our lessors, is already in the process of calling back four of its Boeing 737-300 aircraft and Air Nigeria is fully cooperating in line with the Cape Town Convention to expedite the repossession process.”

The statement added, “Air Nigeria plans to acquire state-of-the-art aircraft to fill the reduction in capacity and is currently finalising plans to resume normal flight operations across the regional and domestic routes as soon as possible.

“We will also like to inform that the scheduled Lagos-London-Lagos flight operation is not affected by the temporary suspension directive of the NCAA and passengers are, therefore, encouraged to proceed with their confirmed itinerary, while intending customers can make their reservations.”

Aviation Ministry sources had earlier confirmed that the foreign lessor was in the process of repossessing the four leased planes.

Article credit: Punch Newspaper

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Updated 6 Years ago

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