The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said in Lagos on Thursday that the operating license of Dana Airline, owners of the ill-fated aircraft that crashed in Lagos on Sunday has not been withdrawn as widely reported.
Spokesperson of the aviation regulatory agency, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, said the flights of the airline were only grounded to pave way for investigation, but that Dana Airline is still intact. He said the airline has to exist for it to answer questions for a successful investigation.
"What we only did was to ground their operation while we carry out a recertification process and they will remain grounded while investigation into the crash lasted. The license of the airline is still
intact except its operational flights," the NCAA spokesman said.
"The operations of the airline have been suspended but the organization, Dana Airline, still exist. They still exist as an airline, if we withdraw its licence, who will answer our questions? At the end of the enquiries, if they are found guilty, then we can be talking about either withdrawing or revoking the operational license of the airline," he added.
But Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation on Media, Mr. Joe Obi, who announced the indefinite suspension of Dana Airline's license on Tuesday, said yesterday that there is no need to be playing with words over the operational status of the airline.
"Whichever one they choose, the directive is that the airline's operations in Nigeria remain suspended until further notice. Government is committed towards investigating the cause of that crash with a view to guarding against further occurrence," Obi told Daily Trust on telephone yesterday.
He also said the black box of the ill fated flight that was recovered by the police and handed over to the Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has been flown to the US for proper analysis and investigation.
Following the Ministry's announcement, the management of Dana Air on Wednesday denied the suspension of its licence in Nigeria in the wake of Sunday's air disaster.
At a world press conference in Lagos, Wednesday, Francis Ogboro, a director in the company told journalists that only the aircrafts similar to the crashed one had been grounded.
"I use this opportunity to tell the world that our licence has not been suspended," said Mr. Ogboro.
"Every time there is an accident like this, aircrafts of that type are grounded for checks and that's what happened. The licence has not been suspended," he added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Dana announced the suspension of its flight operations, saying it was in sympathy with the victims. Dana Air management also denied speculations that top executives of the airline had fled the country since the disaster.
But Media Assistant to the Aviation Minister, Mr. Obi said Dana had no authority to claim that its license had not been suspended.
"I speak for the aviation ministry and what I'm aware of is that the airline's operating license has been suspended indefinitely," he Obi said.
The various positions expressed by the players may spark a fresh controversy in the coming days.
Speaking to Daily Trust, Mr. Chris Aligbe, an aviation commentator, described the suspension of operational license of Dana Airline as normal procedure.
"Most times when an airline is involved in a fatal accident, its operations are suspended for thorough investigate to be effected. In some other advanced economies, the aircraft model may be suspended until investigations are complete," he said.
The aircraft, with Registration Number 5N-RAM had on Sunday departed Abuja for Lagos with 146 passengers onboard, one Dana Air Flight Engineer, 2 Pilots and 4 Cabin Crew, all of whom were killed when the flight crashed at Iju-Ishaga, Lagos.