Nigeria's Dana Air resumes flights, 7 months after crash

Fri Jan 4, 2013 4:53am EST

* Dana Air crash killed 163 people in June

* Investigation has yet to reveal cause of accident

* Aviation Ministry audit says planes are airworthy

ABUJA, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Nigeria's Dana Air, banned from flying after a crash which killed 163 people last year, will resume flights on Friday, it said, despite the lack of an official verdict on what brought the plane down.

The Dana Air McDonnell Douglas MD-83 flew into an apartment block in a Lagos suburb on June 3 last year, killing everyone on board and 10 people on the ground.

Dana Air will resume operations with its five remaining MD-83s, starting with a flight from the capital Abuja to Nigeria's largest city Lagos on Friday, the airline's spokesman Tony Usidamen said.

Nigeria's government lifted a ban on the airline in September but an investigation into the crash is ongoing. The pilot reported dual engine failure before the plane went down.

"We won't know the cause until the investigation has been completed ... a thorough audit of the airline has been done and the remaining fleet is airworthy," Aviation Ministry spokesman Joe Obi said.

Air crashes are relatively common in Nigeria, which despite being Africa's second biggest economy has a poor air safety record, although it had improved in the years just before the Dana crash.

Air travel remains the quickest and often safest way to travel across a country nearly twice the size of Spain with a dangerous and dilapidated road network.

International carrier Air Nigeria, formerly part of Richard Branson's Virgin fleet, shut down in September due to what it called "staff disloyalty and environmental challenges".

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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