Aero Contractors has insisted that the management of the Bauchi airport should be blamed for using a ladder to disembark passengers at the airport last Saturday, as it was given assurance that everything was on ground for its chartered B737 -500, aircraft to land at the Bauchi airport.
Briefing journalists at its Head Office at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos during the week, the Accountable Manager/Acting Managing Director, Aero Contractors, Captain Russell Foon, said that the airline communicated with the airport manager before the flight and was given clearance to come.
He added that at the arrival of the flight, it was told that the stairs had broken down.
According to him, “On Friday 18th, November 2015, confirmed arrangements were made by our Head of Ground Operations, Mr. Peter Omata for the handling of the flight through the airport manager of Bauchi, Mr. Abubakar. He confirmed on many occasions the availability of the airstairs and cost”.
Lee Foon, 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.
He 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 last Saturday and be told that the equipment had broken down 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 Runway 35 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 10 minutes 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 20 minutes”, he added.
On why the airline had used the Boeing 737-500 to airlift 37 passengers to Bauchi, Foon 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.