•7 months after crash
By UCHE USIM
Seven months after its operation was shut down due to a fatal crash in Lagos that claimed the lives of 163 people, Dana Air yesterday returned to the Nigerian skies amidst fanfare. It recommenced operations with a Lagos-Abuja service at about 10.10am with 67 passengers who expressed joy that the return of the airline would stimulate healthy competition that will benefit travellers.
On board the MD 83 jet were comedians, journalists, aviation union officials and the airline’s board members, among others. Basket Mouth, Harrisong, Dipp, Quba Dance Crew; the Nigeria’s street dance champions were among several other occupants of the plane. A director of Dana Group, Francis Ogboro while commenting on its return to service, assured the flying public of utmost safety in its entire operations. He described the June 3, 2012 crash as an unfortunate and devastating blow.
Ogboro expressed joy that the airline had survived it, adding that the accident has galvanized the company to improve its entire operations. He also disclosed that the airline might expand and change its fleet in the next six months, but insisted that the MD83 aircraft was still being flown in major countries of the world including the United States of America (USA).
“In the past six years that we commenced flight operations, we’ve never played with the maintenance of our aircraft and safety of the passengers and we will continue to do that to ensure that we give Nigerians a safe aircraft for our passengers to fly with. “We are expanding our fleet. It is not impossible that we bring in some other aircraft types as well.
Hopefully, in the next six months, we will bring in some new aircraft, may be Boeing 737 or others. But I re-emphasise, there is nothing wrong with the MD 83 aircraft.” On the two-month deadline given the airline by government to tidy up the payment of compensation to families of the crash victims, Ogboro assured that the airline would meet the deadline.
He, however, explained that the payment of all compensation to the beneficiaries would not come from the airline, rather from the insurance companies. “The payment of the insurance due to the crashed families is not something that will come from Dana Air pocket. We are fully insured. I can assure you that our insurance companies led by Lloyds of London have made adequate arrangement to pay all the families involved in the crash.
“If after two months, payments have not been made, it’s not because Dana Air insurance has not come up with the money to pay.” He assured that all the passengers on board the ill-fated plane were properly insured by its insurance companies both at home and abroad and that the insurers had made adequate arrangement to pay all the families involved in the crash. Ogboro noted that about 90 per cent of the bereaved families had received the initial $30,000 compensation, while about eight families had applied for the remaining $70,000 compensation as at two weeks ago.