Mr. Dati says Gombe airport is not a 24-hour airport
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, has denied allegation that it prevented a chartered plane conveying some officials of APC, from landing at Gombe airport on January 2.
The agency made the denial on Sunday in a statement issued to media houses in Lagos.
The statement, signed by FAAN General Manager, Public Affairs, Yakubu Dati, said that it was a known fact to all stakeholders that Gombe airport was not a 24-hour airport.
“The airport’s runway is not open for flight operations, both scheduled and unscheduled, for 24 hours,” Mr. Dati said.
According to him, a Notice to Airmen, NOTAM, to that effect, was well known to concerned stakeholders in the industry.
Apart from this, Mr. Dati said that the airport was undergoing maintenance and security surveillance operations in the morning of the incident.
“With the permission of the control tower, maintenance and security surveillance operations take place on the runway at periods when the runway is not active. This is a standard practice in the industry. One of such operations was taking place on the airport’s runway in the morning of the incident and unfortunately, the fire truck used for that operation, belonging to the Gombe State Government, broke down on the runway,” he explained.
He added that while efforts were being made by the engineering staff to remove the truck from the runway, the control tower at the airport was notified of the incident and a new, specific NOTAM was issued by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
“The issued NOTAM was to alert airmen of that incident for the purpose of asking them to stay away from the airport for a specified period of that day, in the overall interest of safety,” he said.
According to Mr. Dati, the fire truck was removed from the runway in less than an hour after the breakdown. He said that it was still unclear to FAAN, why the pilot of the chartered aircraft did not receive the issued NOTAM until the plane was over Gombe Airport.
He added that the matter was being investigated by relevant authorities.