Nigeria’s major carrier, Arik Air has denied that its Accra-Banjul flight on Sunday, that had the national U-23 team on board lost tyre and engine and endangered the lives of the passengers.
In a statement signed by the airline spokesman, Adebanji Ola, the operator lamented that Nigerians painted grossly erroneous pictures of the flight.
“We will like to state for the records that the U-23 team and other passengers on board the aircraft were never in danger of an air accident. Against the reports in the dailies, none of the aircraft in question lost a tyre on landing in Accra and neither did any of the planes lose an engine. The facts are as follows:
“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,” the airline said.
Arik said it 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, adding that the other aircraft were also examined and released back to service.
“The safety of passengers is paramount in our operations and we will not compromise this for anything. The Nigeria Football Federation has already issued a statement to correct the erroneous impression that the team nearly had an air crash,” Arik Air also said.