The Dirección General de Aviación Civil (DGAC) – Civil Aviation- grounded Nature Air, ordering a suspension of all flights and other activities of the airline.
The director of Aviacion Civil, Enio Cubillo, confirmed the suspension Friday afternoon, saying the notice was sent on Thursday to Nelson Vega, general manager of the airline.
Cubillo said the measure was taken due to the resignation of operations manager, Jorge Valverde Esquivel, the disability leave of the air security chief, Rodney Duran and the death of the head of pilot training, Juan Manuel Retana, who was the pilot flying the December 31 crashed plane.
Cubillo added that Valverde resigned on January 9 and communicated the same day to Civil Aviation. In his resignation letter, Valverde exposes a series of alleged anomalies in the operation of the airline.
The Civil Aviation chief said he could not reveal the details of that complaint because there is an administrative investigation into the matter.
According to the Civil Aviation letter, “Nature Air S.A. does not currently have a solvent and effective management structure to guarantee the execution of air operations safely” and “at this time, the airline only has three crews for coverage of all routes approved by the Civic Aviation Technical Council.”
Cubillo said that if the airline disrespects the suspension it is exposed to lose its operating license permanently.
The decision to suspend the operations of Nature Air comes two weeks after the December 31, 2017, fiery crash of a Cessna Grand Caravan in Punta Islita, Guanacaste, where 12 people died: 10 American tourists and the two Costa Rican pilots.
On September 5, 2017, another Nature Air flight, but using a rented airplane, ended in tragedy. In that crash, a Costa Rican and an American died, while four others were injured, including the pilot, when a Cessna fell into the Torres river shortly after taking off from the Tobias Bolañs (Pavas) airport, bound for Tamarindo.
Nature Air’s general manager, Nelson Vega, said through a statement that “first we need to confirm that the measure issued by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation that orders us to suspend operations temporarily, not permanently.”
He adds that on Thursday afternoon they received the letter from the Civil Aviation, notifying Nature Air, that they must suspend operations temporarily because they do not have three key positions at this time.
Vega points out that the airline has submitted to the DGAC the names of the people to fill the positions (new Director of Operations, new Head of Security and new Head of Training) and are waiting for the DGAC to approve the appointments and to lift the temporary suspension of operations to resume our operations normally.
Nature Air has more than 80 direct employees and several indirect employees. In addition, this national company flies more than 200,000 tourists per year. It offers flights to Tamarindo, Tortuguero, Quepos, Punta Islita, Nosara, and Liberia, among other destinations.
Editor’s note: Despite the DGAC suspension, as of this morning, Saturday, January 13, 2018, 5:51am, the Nature Air website was operational and with no notice of any suspension. In fact, the system allowed booking a flight (up to the payment page, it wasn’t our intention to actually purchase the flight) from San Jose to Tamarindo for Monday, January 15, 2018 and return on Wednesday, January 17, 2018.