Arik Air management explained on Monday that none of the aircraft used in conveying members of the U-23 national team between Accra and Banjul, lost a tyre on landing in Accra or an engine.
Ola Banji, Arik Air spokesman, who spoke on behalf of the airline was reacting to reports claiming that ‘the passengers and aircraft were in danger because one of the aircraft lost an engine or a tyre.
According to him, ‘the aircraft that was conveying the team to Banjul had a stopover in Accra, Ghana. On ground Accra, the Captain, while on routine walk around the aircraft as part of the airline’s safety procedure, noticed that one of the tyres had a low pressure (not flat). Instead of keeping the team in Accra longer than necessary, we had to deploy another aircraft that was on a night-stop in Accra to take the team to Banjul.
“The Captain of this aircraft was airborne when he had to make an air return due to a gear pin in-situ. However, our standard operating procedure required the aircraft to be re-certified by our maintenance partner, Lufthansa Technik before it could continue with the flight to Banjul. We then had to fly in Lufthansa engineers from Lagos to change the low pressure wheel on the original operating aircraft for it to fly the team and other passengers to Banjul. The other aircraft were also examined and released back to service”, he said.
Banji added that the safety of passengers is paramount in the airline’s operations, adding, ‘and we will not compromise this for anything’.
He said the Nigeria Football Federation has already issued a statement to correct the erroneous impression that the team nearly had an air crash.
Arik Air is Nigeria and West Africa’s largest airline and operates mainly from two hubs at Murtala Mohammed Airport Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.
It operates a fleet of 28 state-of-the art regional, medium haul and long haul aircraft including two Airbus A340-500 making the airline the first operator of the wide bodied aircraft in Africa.
The airline currently serves 19 destinations across Nigeria as well as Accra (Ghana), Banjul (Gambia), Dakar (Senegal), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Monrovia (Liberia), Cotonou (Benin Republic), Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Douala (Cameroon), Luanda (Angola), London Heathrow (UK), Johannesburg (South Africa) and New York JFK (USA).
The airline operates a combined number of about 120 daily flights from its hubs in Lagos and Abuja, and has been Africa’s fastest growing airline for the last five years.