Some members of the airline management spoke today explaining what led to the situation stating that as an airline, they had no choice but to disembark the passengers after the passengers started becoming agitated 10 minutes after the flight landed.
Accountable Manager and Acting Managing Director, Captain Russell Lee who spoke on behalf of the airline explained that the flight, a Boeing 737-500 with registration number 5N-BLG was chartered to take the groom of a wedding from Abuja to Bauchi.
Lee said that the flight was chartered last Thursday to be used for a wedding and that the airline made contact with the Bauchi Airport management repeatedly, who assured that ground handling facilities were on ground only for the aircraft to arrive in Bauchi on Saturday and be told that the equipment had broken down a few minutes ago.
According to him, after some minutes on the aircraft, the passengers began to agitate and ask to be let down, and when the ladder was brought the airline captain, to avoid any unruly behavior and any incident decided against safety regulations to disembark the passengers with the ladder as he claimed the groom was a passenger of the flight.
“At 10:42 the aircraft touched down on Runway35 at Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport. The controller advised the crew that due to absence of Marshallers and no ramp officials of any sort that parking would be at their own discretion.”
“After parking the captain reports they waited for up to 10minutes for stairs to be brought to the aircraft but no stairs came to the aircraft. The captain reported that he informed passengers of the situation and they were beginning to become agitated. What was not known to the crew at the beginning of the flight was that the groom of the wedding was onboard the flight. The wedding was to be started in another 20minutes.”
On why the airline had used the Boeing 737-500 to airlift 37 passengers to Bauchi, Russell said that for the return flight the airline had 104 passengers and that was why they did not use a smaller aircraft for the charter.
On what would happen should the outcome of the Investigation come out indicting the airline, Lee said that the airline has been notified by the Ministry and The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and when they got to the bridge they would cross that but for now, the airline has not been found culpable.
Captain lee further said that Aero had reached some resolutions since the incident stating that it has called for its own investigation into the result and the decision to perform further charters into Bauchi is suspended on B737 equipment but we can consider charter into Bauchi on Q400 or Dash8-300 aircraft.”