Following the crash of its plane in Iju-Ishaga, a Lagos suburb, on June 3, 2012, aviation authorities had temporarily grounded the airline. However, the airline will conduct its inaugural flight from Lagos to Abuja at about 9.45am today.
The airline’s spokesman, Tony Usidamen, who confirmed this yesterday told Vanguard that all arrangements had been concluded for a seamless flight. The airline yesterday had a pre-inaugural flight from Lagos to Abuja, but he added that the flight had no commercial passengers on board, except some officials of the airline. According to him, full commercial operations will begin today with the first commercial flight taking off at 9.45 am from Lagos to Abuja.
He also confirmed that the airline’s reservation system had been abuzz with intending passengers making their bookings, saying that explained the reason the flight would be real-time.
According to ThisDay, the inaugural flight would have on board government officials from regulatory agencies such as the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and entertainers such as Basket Mouth, Denrele, Karen Igho of Big Brother Africa fame, Durela, Buchi and Bovi.
The Federal Government through the NCAA revoked the company’s operating licence shortly after the crash pending proper investigations. In September 2012, the Federal Government reinstated the airline’s licence and allowed it to resume, only with test flights. And then in December 2012, NCAA issued a new Air Operators Certificate to Dana Air after it completed the necessary re-certification processes.
With the resumption of flights, Dana Air would become the second Nigerian airline involved in a crash in the last 10 years that was allowed to fly. The first was Bellview Airlines.
But, the victims of the crash, who are yet to be compensated for property lost to the disaster said the airline had been unfair to them. The victims, including widows and young parents with many children, have cried out to both the Federal and Lagos State governments to ensure that what is left of their lives is not shattered. Those who spoke to The Nation lamented the insincerity with which the airline has treated their case. Spokesman of ‘seriously affected victims’ Chike Okwuosa said he was disappointed that the Federal Government allowed the airline to address their matter with levity. He said even after writing several letters, nothing has been done. “They wrote more than two months ago that they needed additional information, which he (my lawyer) forwarded to them. But till now, nothing has been done; instead, we heard they are resuming their business when they have destroyed ours. Is that fair?”
Pastor Daniel Omuwunmi, who lost over N500 million to the disaster, said the airline, after a series of letters from his counsel – Messrs Dele Adesina and Co., made an offer of $30, 000. Omuwunmi, who spoke through a counsel at the law firm of Olumide Olaiya, told The Nation that the offer was rejected because the airline had not even written to accept or negotiate his claims. “They have not done anything. We never heard from them until the last working week of December when they made an offer of $30, 000 to Pastor Omuwunmi as advance payment. What are they advancing? All the efforts we made to bring them to the negotiation table were rebuffed.”