“Today (Monday), we lifted the ban on Executive Air Services Limited. They have complied substantially with all of our imposed sanctions; they’ve paid part of the fines, and they brought up premium plan. So, we have lifted the ban today, so, they can continue to do their business”.
These were the words of the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika during the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja on Monday, thus ending more than 40 days of suspension of the airline from operations. According to him, “these sanctions are not punitive, they are things to make our industry work better and keep all of you safe.”
It would be recalled that the airline was suspended for flying popular musician, Azeez Fashola aka Naira Marley to Abuja for a musical concert mid-June, an action that contravened the restriction placed on interstate movement and closure of airports due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country at the time.
Although the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Sam Iwuajoku, explained that he thought the flight was arranged for Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works & Housing, not knowing they were for “a bunch of useless people”, that explanation does not seem to impress Sirika who put an indefinite lid on the operations of the airline.
He said at the time: “The operation is a clear violation of our approval which we take very seriously. It seems this is becoming a norm. This is the second time. So, Executive Jet Services is hereby suspended indefinitely and they will face the law.”
The minister also announced that the report on the Very Important Personalities being probed for flouting Covid-19 protocol at the country’s airports would be made public “hopefully this week”.