The Airline Operators of Nigeria has condemned the move in the strongest terms and considered it very unlawful in the face of the fact that the airline had secured all necessary approvals from the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for the flight in line with the protocols for exemption of Essential flights as issued by the NCAA.
The AON has also frowned at the crude action because the pilots were only doing their lawful duties which were also in line with President Muhammed Buhari’s Exemption Order of the Oil and Gas sector during the shutdown exercise, the AON stated.
According to the AON, “Aviation is under the Exclusivity List of the Federal Government and the Port Harcourt NAF Base is a Federal Government entity outside the jurisdiction of the Rivers State Government.”
“The Airline Operators of Nigeria hereby demands the immediate and unconditional release of the two pilots with all purported charges dropped so that they can go back to their families for the Easter holidays and return to their jobs.”
However, should the Rivers State Government fail to release the pilots within 24 hours, Airlines in the country will be forced to boycott all schedule and unscheduled commercial and private flight operations, including oil and gas offshore flight services, into Port Harcourt for a period of three months, the AON also emphasised.
“We therefore hope our appeal for the immediate release of the pilots withing 24 hours will be heeded by Rivers State Government otherwise Airlines in the country will have no other option than to completely boycott all operations into Port Harcourt,” said AON Chairman, Capt. Nogie Meggison.