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|Friday, August 17, 2001, updated at 08:44(GMT+8)|
Britain Stops Nigeria Airways from Returning to Lagos-London FlightThe British aviation authorities Thursday admitted here that it has prevented Nigeria Airways from returning to the Lagos-London route scheduled for Thursday, due to safety concerns over the use of a Boeing 747 plane leased from Air Djibouti.
The British Ministry of Transport earlier this month gave Nigeria Airways the green light to operate the Boeing 747 aircraft into London's Heathrow Airport.
A statement from the British High Commission in Lagos said that British aviation authorities withdrew the approval because of a recent report issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which raised safety concerns on the Djibouti plane.
"The United Kingdom (UK) only became aware of the ICAO report on Djibouti after permission had been given to Nigeria Airways to commence services," the statement said.
It added that the problem is not with Nigeria Airways, "our concern lies with the capability of the Djibouti Civil Aviation to properly regulate Air Djibouti".
The British aviation authorities further regretted for the decision, saying: "Safety is paramount. The UK looks forward to Nigeria Airways resuming their services to the UK and remain willing to grant permission to Nigeria Airways to operate once an appropriate lease arrangement has been made."
In its response, Nigeria Airways alleged that the British aviation authorities are sabotaging its efforts to return to the lucrative route and protect its two carries, namely British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, which are the only two airways currently servicing the route.
On August 7, Nigeria Airways announced the resumption of flights on the route from Thursday and fixed 499 U.S. dollars as the trip.
The troubled Nigeria Airways has since 1998 stopped its operation on the Lagos-London route, following the suspension of air link between Britain and Nigeria due to alleged safety oversight weakness on the part of Nigeria.
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