Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operator of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), Lagos, has drawn the attention of the public and the relevant government agencies, particularly the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), to the open admission by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) that it was responsible for the wing tip brush incident involving two First Nation Airline’s planes at MMA2’s apron, last year.
A statement by Bi-Courtney, on Thursday, observed that during the incident, the wing tip of an arriving First Nation aircraft clipped the wing tip of another aircraft on the ground, while it was being marshalled to the parking area by a marshaller of FAAN deployed in MMA2. The firm noted that marshalling duties are handled by FAAN in all Nigerian airports.
It further stated that investigation had revealed conclusively that the incident was due to marshalling error by FAAN’s staff on duty, and not because of inadequate space on the apron of MMA2 to park the affected aircraft as touted by FAAN.
According to Bi-Courtney, it was shocking to read recent media reports that FAAN had written a letter to the Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, to oppose the commencement of regional operations at MMA2, on the ground that the size of the apron was inadequate for parking aircrafts and had cited that particular incident as the only justification for this “false and misleading allegation”.
Bi-Courtney said it was, however, delighted to read further media reports that quoted FAAN’s General Manager, Corporate Communications, Yakubu Dati, admitting that the agency is singularly responsible for managing all aprons and runways and also provides marshalling services in all the terminals. He also said “it is FAAN marshallers that also work to help pilots at the tarmac in all the terminals”.
The statement was contained in a report in the Leadership Newspapers of April 6, 2016, entitled, FAAN Confirms Talks With Medview Over Relocation To GAT, in which Dati was quoted as follows: “We are aware that Medview Airline is considering coming to GAT (the General Aviation Terminal) and we have had talks about it, but that is the only airline having such a plan. We have enough space to welcome any airline and you know that we manage runway and the aprons as it were. It is FAAN marshallers that also work to help pilots at the tarmac in all the terminals”.
Bi-Courtney said the statement credited to Dati had clearly exposed the hypocrisy in FAAN’s opposition to the commencement of regional operations at MMA2, while also questioning the agency’s motivation for going as far as concocting outright falsehood in a bid to mislead the honourable minister and the public.
The company further stated: “According to media reports, another excuse given by FAAN for opposing regional operations at MMA2 was that it does not have the personnel to deploy in MMA2 for the regional flights. It claimed its AVSEC and ARFFS staff are overstretched due to retired and retiring personnel. This is the same FAAN that signed a valid agreement with us for the regional operations as far back as May, last year, after exhaustive negotiations with us. It is instructive to point out the fact that the current Managing Director of FAAN was part of the negotiating team and also that as far back as May 2015, the immediate past Minster of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka, had given FAAN the go ahead to hire AVSEC and ARFFS staff.”
“And it was on the strength of this agreement that we proceeded to make huge investments in the preparation for the operation. We, therefore, affirm that a statutory body like FAAN that executes an agreement and then turns round to state that it has no personnel to carry out its contractual and statutory obligations under the agreement cannot be regarded as acting in the public interest. This reason, as proffered by FAAN, is totally unacceptable,” the statement added.