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Flairjet: Aviation minister apologises to Nigerians, corrects self on impounded aircraft after ICIR’s report

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HADI Sirika, the Aviation Minister on Monday apologised to Nigerians about a wrong claim he disseminated via his social media handle on an impounded United Kingdom (UK)-based airline, barely 24 hours after a fact check by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

The minister corrected himself saying contrary to his earlier statement about the identity of the operator which he mentioned as Flair Aviation, the impounded aircraft was actually Flairjet.

He attributed the error to the on-going Ramadan fast.

“There is a company called Flairjet. I want to apologise that I tweeted in the afternoon (on Sunday) when the fasting was biting harder and we verified this as Flair Aviation. The correct name is Flairjet and it is UK registered company,” Sirika said at a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), Monday in Abuja.

He explained further that the airline has an aircraft, Legacy 600 with registration number GPRFX.

The Minister gave the operator’s business address as Business Aviation Centre, Terminal Road, Birmingham International Airport, West Midlands. The code was listed as B26QN.

The ICIR had earlier fact-checked Sirika’s claim regarding the purported base, identity of the aircraft and realised the information was inaccurate.

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Further findings through the UK Civil Aviation Authority database of licensed airline operators did not also reflect the airline (Flair Aviation) listed by the Minister but Flairjet – the newly corrected airline.

He further criticised the operator for defying its contractual agreement with the Federal Government to embark on commercial flight operation, thus charging passengers and flying people in and out of the country.

“This company applied severally as to operate humanitarian flight and we did approve. It is very clear at the beginning of this exercise that we defined what those flights should be: essential flights basically – cargo, medical evacuation, medical supplies, and so on and so forth,” Sirika added.

He said the crew who are British nationals have been subjected to 14 days quarantine while the investigation continues.

Olugbenga is an Investigative Reporter with The ICIR. Email address: [email protected]rnigeria.org. Twitter handle: @OluAdanikin

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