Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Nigeria's second largest private carrier Air Nigeria has defended its safety record, after the airline was slammed with the second suspension in as many weeks over safety concerns by the regulatory Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
In addition to the suspension of its operations, critics charge that the airline is not financially buoyant to put its 11 aircraft in top operational conditions, while the management of the airline was accused of diverting billions of naira in ''intervention funds'' given to it by the government.
But in a statement issued in Lagos and made available to PANA Tuesday, Air Nigeria said ever since the inception of its flight operations, it had been operating in strict compliance with safety regulations and has at no time compromised on standards.
The airline, owned by Nigerian businessman Jimoh Ibrahim, said it had consistently submitted to internationally-recognised audit exercises, and that it was the first Nigerian airline and the only carrier in West Africa to pass three consecutive IATA Operational Safety Audit programme (IOSA) in the last five years.
''With an established track record of offering safe and secure means of transport in the last seven years without any accident, Air Nigeria affirms of its continuous compliance with all laid down operational and maintenance regulations of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association
(IATA),'' the airline, formerly Virgin Nigeria, said in a statement.
''Air Nigeria was just recently given a clean bill of health after a successful safety audit of its fleet of aircraft and flight operations by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and has at no time found deficient in the discharge of offering safe air services to passengers,'' it added
Nigeria's domestic airlines have come under extra scrutiny since the 3 June horror crash of a DANA Air plane, which killed all 153 on board and six people on the ground.
Unconfirmed reports that the crashed MD 83 plane was not in good condition and was too old have forced air travellers to pay more attention to the state of indigenous airlines in the country, with many now avoiding airlines with old planes or perceived poor management.
-0- PANA SEG 26June2012