A Nigerian commercial airline whose operations were suspended after a crash outside the city of Lagos killed 159 people has resumed flights, the company spokesman said.

Sam Ogbogoro said on Monday that Dana Air reopened with two flights, 18 months after the crash which also claimed lives on the ground.

"The airline is back in the sky. We are back in business. We have two flights today. The first has just left Lagos for Abuja," Ogbogoro told the AFP news agency.

Dana's operation was grounded after the crash on June 3, 2012. The airline was briefly cleared to fly again last January but a suspension was reimposed for safety reasons.

The McDonnell Douglas-83 aircraft that crashed in the Iju-Ishaga area of Nigeria's financial hub had taken off from Abuja.

Reports said relatives of those who died in the crash were angry that the airline had been allowed back into the skies. Many said they had not received compensation and other assistance promised by the airline.

Safety concerns

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country of 170 million people, has seen a series of deadly air disasters that claimed hundreds of lives in recent years.

Concerns have been raised about standards of safety and routine maintenance checks, particularly involving domestic carriers.

On October 3 last year, a charter plane with 20 people on board suffered engine failure shortly after take-off from Lagos, crash-landing near a fuel depot and killing at least 14.

Nigeria's worst air accident was in 1973, when 176 people died in a crash involving a Nigeria Airways Boeing 707 flying from Jeddah to Kano, according to the Aviation Safety Network website.

Aviation minister Stella Oduah said in an interview published this month that when she took over in July 2011, the industry was a "liability", with severe problems in terms of safety and security.

But since then she said safety had been transformed and was now more compliant with international standards and best practice.

Source: Agencies