Rep. Nnolim Nnaji, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, has advised the Federal Government against using foreign airline to evacuate stranded Nigerians from Canada.
Nnaji, representing Nkanu East/West Federal Constituency of Enugu State, said in a statement in Lagos on Sunday that the House would not condone it.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that there was persistent refusal by the Canadian authorities to grant Air Peace airline landing rights for the evacuation of stranded Nigerians in Canada.
NAN reports that the Canadian Government was alleged to have given preference to Ethiopian Airline for evacuation of stranded Nigerians desiring to come home as against Air Peace, which the task force has already engaged for the evacuation.
Air Peace is charging $1,134 per passenger as against $2,500 charged by Ethiopian Airline.
Nnaji, however, said the position of the House of Representatives was very clear on the issue of evacuation flights.
The lawmaker explained that the House had on May 12 adopted the motion against the use of foreign airlines for evacuation of stranded Nigerians in other countries.
Nnaji said the House had urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and relevant Ministerial Departments and Agencies on the motion.
He said the House had urged them to ensure that Nigerian airlines enjoy the right of first refusal in all circumstances where Nigerians needed to be evacuated from other countries.
He said: “The House of Representatives had insisted that the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Aviation and indeed the COVID-19 Task Force must explore all available diplomatic channels to ensure that a Nigerian airline operate the evacuation flight out of Canada.
“The aviation committee has also observed that Canadian authorities has no reason to deny Air Peace landing right.
“This is because available records had shown that the airline has the require certification and approvals to operate internationally.
“Our findings have shown that Air Peace is International Air Transport Association’s Safety Oversight Audit (IOSA) certified.
“This means that the airline has a major international parameter for measuring airlines’ safety standards.”
Nnaji said there was the need for the Canadian Government to treat the flight as a special emergency occasioned by Coronavirus pandemic and immediately grant the necessary approvals to Air Peace.
Similarly, the lawmaker said the committee had summoned the PTF on COVID-19 and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aviation and other agencies to appear before it on Thursday.
Nnaji explained that the committee summoned those directly or indirectly involved in the earlier evacuation flights handled by the British Airways, Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines from the UK, United Arab Emirates and United States of America.