By Citizens Platform
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has described as regrettable, the statement by Arik Air, unfairly indicting it in the case of the stowaway teenager who evaded security at the Benin Airport and hid in the wheels compartment of a Lagos-bound Arik Air commercial plane on Saturday morning.
FAAN’s counter-statement released today (Sunday), reads in full:
“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria read with great dismay the statement released by Arik Airlines about the stowaway found on board Arik’s flight 544 from Benin to Lagos on Saturday 24 August, 2013, in which FAAN was unfairly indicted while the airline took no responsibility whatsoever for such a serious security breach.
“The facts of the matter as FAAN’s investigation has revealed, are completely different to the Arik account. The facts of the stowaway incident are as follows:
“On Saturday August 24th, 2013 at about 0905hrs, ARIK flight 544 departed Benin Airport for Lagos. The normal runway inspections were conducted by FAAN Security at 0730hrs and 0850hrs. These runway inspections are conducted routinely all day, everyday, by a FAAN Security patrol team and are aimed at preventing animal and human incursions unto the aircraft maneuvering areas of the airfield.
“Our investigations reveal that a passenger on board the flight called the attention of the cabin crew while the aircraft was waiting to take off at the threshold of the runway, to the effect that they had seen a young boy walk under the aircraft and had not seen him reappear either side.
“The cabin crew in turn informed the pilots in the cockpit about this. The pilots called the control tower and asked them to request FAAN to do a sweep of the area after their departure, opting to carry on with their flight despite the report.
“Immediately upon the departure of the aircraft, FAAN’s security did another sweep of the area and found nothing unusual.
“Upon the arrival of the aircraft in Lagos, we were informed that there had been a stowaway found alive alighting from the wheel well of the aircraft.
“While FAAN takes this security breach extremely seriously, we deem Arik’s attempt at indicting and smearing FAAN as irresponsible. Safety and security breaches occur when all the checks in the system are beaten. Given that security is a responsibility for all players in this industry, a critical last opportunity to detect and prevent this stowaway was offered and had the airline taken the information by passengers as seriously as they should have, this incident would have been avoided.
“Arik Air has a penchant for being unprofessional in its utterances. In the Air Transport Industry, the ethos is not to cast blame but to learn from such events, by seeking to find out why they occurred so that all concerned can do everything possible to prevent future occurrences.
“Unfortunately, this airline has chosen to adopt a different ethos and always rushes to cast blame on everybody else except itself!
“FAAN is dealing with a number of legacy problems stemming from neglect over the years. One of these is the perimeter fencing of airports across the country, which either did not exist before or have deteriorated significantly. A decision was made by this administration to prioritize the perimeter fencing of every FAAN airport. This is a major undertaking and we are following an aggressive program to achieve this at all 22 airports.”
Source: Citizens Platform
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