A political tussle exists in Nigeria over a B737-300 of dormant Cally Air (Calabar), the Cross River state government-owned virtual carrier suspended by its operator Aero Contractors (N2, Lagos) in July 2022, over NGN900 million naira (USD1.9 million) in outstanding service fees.

According to This Day newspaper, in 2021, the Cross River state government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with AeroContractors as the operator and IRS Airlines (Abuja) as the asset manager of two aircraft: B737-300 5N-BYQ (msn 30334) and Dash 8-200 5N-GRS (msn 547). Cally Air was created to service Calabar from Lagos, Kano, and Abuja.

Recently, outgoing Cross River state governor Ben Ayade planned to cede 5N-BYQ to IRS Airlines in a somewhat blurred agreement opposed by his successor Bassey Ottu and Aero Contractors, reports This Day. Ayade, earlier this year, had listed some of the state's assets - including Cally Air - to be ceded to private firms.

About two weeks ago, Cross River state government representatives led by Jake Ottu Enyia and Udiba Effiong Udiba, the respective commissioners of aviation and asset management and recovery, had a meeting with Aero Contractors' management about the possible return of the aircraft, but Aero Contractors insisted on the repayment of the outstanding NGN 900 million for operations and maintenance services over the last two years.

According to ch-aviation fleets advanced data, both aircraft are now part of the Aero Contractor fleet and are stored at Lagos. 5N-BYQ is owned by Cally Air. It was formerly operated by airBaltic (BT, Riga) as YL-BBX. The Cross River state government owns 5N-GRS, although it is currently derelict.

Editorial Comment: Corrected ownership of 5N-BYQ. - 08.06.2023 - 12:58 UTC