The Federal Airport of Nigeria (FAAN) and the management of Arik Air are trading blames after a teenage boy flew from Benin airport to Lagos in the tyre hole of the latter’s Benin-Lagos flight.
The boy, identified as Daniel Ihekina, ghosted past both airport and the airline security and sneaked into the tyre compartment, and caused a stir when disembarked passengers saw him emerging from his hideout on the Lagos tarmac.
The Arik aircraft, with registration number, 5N-MJG Flight 44, departed the Benin Airport around 9 a.m for Lagos on Saturday.
Parts of the Benin airport, which were not fenced, had been pointed to as to how the boy got to the tarmac.
The airline’s management, while stating that it was “shocked” at how the boy beat the aviation security personnel at the airport, blamed FAAN for the security lapse.
“We are worried by the incessant security lapses at our airports. We are appealing to the management of FAAN to immediately address the problem,” the airline said in a statement by Chris Ndulue, its Managing Director.
The airline stated that before the flight, its pilot had reported a strange movement in the bush about 300 metres at the airport to the airport’s control tower.
The control tower, however, went ahead and cleared the flight for take-off after the control tower responded to the pilot by saying they were sending security men to the bush to arrest the boy, according to Arik.
“As the captain was making his final turn, preparatory for take-off, a cabin crew called his attention to the information by some of the passengers that they saw a boy running towards the airplane,” Mr. Ndulue said.
“The First Officer confirmed that they had observed it earlier and alerted the control tower which responded that they had sent the patrol team to arrest the boy.
“The captain again reported to the control tower and was informed that the situation was under control and that he had been cleared for take-off.
“On arrival at the domestic wing of MMA, Lagos, a teenage boy, who apparently had sneaked into the aircraft main wheel well jumped out and was arrested by Arik personnel and handed over to FAAN security,” Mr. Ndulue added.
In its reaction, FAAN insisted that Arik Air is liable for the circumstances leading to the incident.
Yakubu Datti, FAAN’s Spokesperson, said that the airline, which is Nigeria’s biggest carrier, acted with “impunity.”
“Arik Air acted with impunity by not stopping the aircraft to check when the crew and ground personnel’s attention was drawn to an abnormality on the tarmac,” Mr. Datti said.
Mr. Datti said that the airline’s crew ought to have aborted the flight and returned to the apron for check-up after noticing such a “misnomer.”
“This is arrant display of impunity,” said Mr. Datti.
“The aircraft should not have taxied further, but return to the apron until a proper check is carried out on all parts of the aircraft.
“FAAN will not tolerate such impunity henceforth from Arik or any airline. Any violation would be met with applicable sanctions,” Mr. Datti added.
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