Tuesday, December 22, 2015 6:25 am
The Aero Contractors Nigeria Ltd.on Monday said it had begun investigation into the ground incident involving one of its aircraft at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport, Bauchi on Saturday.
Thirty four passengers on board an aircraft belonging to Aero contractors used a ladder to disembark on Saturday, following a malfunction air stairs at the airport.
The video of the incident went viral on the internet, attracting wide spread condemnation and concerns over safety of passengers and the general state of airports in the country.
Addressing newsmen in Lagos, Capt. Russell Foon, Acting Managing Director, Aero Contractors, said that the circumstances leading to the incident was regrettable.
Foon said the aircraft was chartered by a group of young people, including a groom from Abuja, to attend a wedding in Bauchi on Dec.19.
He said the airline contacted the airport manager, one Mr Abubakar, who confirmed availability of the airstairs and the cost of the services.
According to him, upon landing and after waiting for over 10 minutes, the airport management informed the Captain that the airstairs had just broken down and the fire services were trying to sort it out.
Foon said: “After waiting for another five to seven minutes, the passengers became furious as they were now getting very late for the wedding ceremony.
“The captain went to the cabin and explained to them that he may have to take them back to Abuja as they cannot disembark due to lack of stairs.
“The group insisted that he cannot keep them on board the aircraft and he considered that their anger was becoming potentially threatening for the five-man crew to take them back to Abuja.’’
Foon said that the captain, against his wish, thereafter permitted them to disembark, using the ladder provided by the fire service in order to reduce what he thought was a volatile situation.
He noted that the airstairs was later repaired and was used to board the 104 passengers of the said aircraft on the return journey to Abuja.
“Consequently, an investigation into the event has been called, the results of which could lead to changes in our operational procedures.
“Following the findings of this investigation, it will become a part of our training and Crew Resource Management (CRM) re-currency training exercises.
“The decision to perform any further charters into Bauchi is suspended on B737 equipment but we can consider charters into Bauchi on Q400 or Dash 8-300 aircraft.
“Any future charters to destinations that are areas of scheduled commercial flight operations must have at least one permanent Ground Handling company on ground before we will consider,’’ he added.
Meanwhile, FAAN’s General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mr Yakubu Dati, said that the authority was not in charge of running the Bauchi Airport.
“I want to clearly state that the Bauchi Airport is run by the state government, while FAAN provides security, fire cover as well as marshallers for the airport.
“Those are what we provide and a state airport is not run by FAAN because there has been a lot of misconception that the said airport is run by FAAN,’’ Dati said.
Dati commended the Minister of State for Aviation, Capt. Hadi Sirika, for immediately setting up a panel to investigate the incident.
While lauding Sirika for setting up the investigative panel, he noted the incident was most unprofessional and had portrayed Nigeria in bad light.
He said: “I want to salute the proactiveness which has further strengthened the desire to have somebody who is a key player as the minister for aviation.
“I believe at this point we should begin to ensure how we can operate in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standard and the regulations of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
“Anything short of that, I believe that this present minister will not accept.’’