This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
An Embraer Legacy 600 operated by UK-based charter provider Flairjet—a subsidiary of Flexjet Ltd.—was impounded this week and its crew arrested and placed in quarantine after allegedly violating NIgeria’s Covid-19 travel restrictions. According to reports, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority is investigating whether the aircraft, registered as G-ERFX, was engaged in commercial operations despite airspace closure in the country due to the pandemic.
The reports state Flairjet was granted a permit for a humanitarian flight on May 13 and, according to its flight plan, the 13-seat Legacy departed London Stansted Airport on May 17 with six passengers on board. After a stop in Spain, it landed in Nigeria with a total of seven passengers. At Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, it was determined by Nigerian officials that FlairJet actually was conducting a revenue flight with a plan to return with another seven passengers on board.
Hadi Sirika, the country’s Minister of Aviation, tweeted, “Flair Aviation [sic], a UK company, was given approval for humanitarian operations, but regrettably we caught them conducting commercial flights,” adding “there shall be maximum penalty.”
In response to an inquiry from AIN, Flairjet responded: “We are continuing to respectfully work with the Nigerian authorities and the British consulate to resolve this situation for this flight. However, because it is an evolving situation we cannot say anything further at this time.”