By Lawani Mikairu
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika yesterday directed an immediate investigation into the use of ladder by Aero Contractors Airlines to disembark passengers on its chartered flight at the Bauchi Airport on Saturday.
This was disclosed yesterday by Mr James Odaudu, Deputy Director, Press and Public Affairs of the Ministry.
According to him; “Several reports received by the Minister have indicated the airline used a ladder to disembark passengers from a Boeing 737 aircraft at the Bauchi airport on Saturday December 19th 2015.
‘’The act is inconsistent with Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations, NCAR and International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, Standards and Recommended Practices, SARPS.
“The investigation will determine the immediate and remote causes of the incident with a view to developing and implementing measures that will prevent a re-occurrence of the unsafe and unacceptable procedure that exposed passengers to high risk of serious injury.
“He reiterated that if the airline is found culpable, the full weight of sanctions within extant laws and regulations would be applied.”
Odaudu added that the Minister assures the travelling public that the Ministry of Transportation in collaboration with Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, will ensure strict adherence to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations as well as ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices by all operators.
Aero Contractors airline was on Saturday forced to disembark 34 passengers on its chartered flight from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja to Bauchi Airport, using ladder instead of the normal stairs normally provided by the ground handlers at every airport.
According to the Public Relations consultant of Aero, Mr Simon Tumba, the airline had to use the ladder because of ‘unserviceable equipment’ at the time of disembarking the passengers.
He said this was rectified by the time the airline was boarding the passengers for their return flight.
Tumba said; “A special charter flight operated by Aero to Bauchi had problems with unserviceable equipment by the airport management in disembarking about 34 passengers from Abuja. Consequently, against the airline’s wish and operation safety guideline, the passengers used a ladder to disembark.
“However at the time of boarding the air stairs became functional and the passengers boarded successfully.”
NAHCO exonerates self
The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc, Nahco aviance, yesterday said it was not responsible for the ordeals of Aero contractors at Bauchi airport as it was not the ground handler that was supposed to provide the air stairs for boarding and disembarking passengers.
Although, Aero in its explanation did not mention NAHCO or any ground handling company, but Mr Tayo Ajakaye, NAHCO spokesperson, said it was expedient to clarify insinuations and belief in some quarters that NAHCO was supposed to have provided the equipment.
He added that NAHCO does not operate at Bauchi airport.