Statement By Aero On The Ground Handling At Bauchi Airport

Aero Aircraft

Aero Aircraft

On Thursday 17th November 2015, a charter was booked and confirmed from Abuja to Bauchi on a Boeing 737 -500 series aircraft. The charter was booked by a group of young people, part of a wedding party, attending this important event in Bauchi.
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. The aircraft to be used for the flight was 5N-BLG, a Boeing 737-500 series aircraft. This aircraft was positioned into Abuja on the evening of November 18th 2015.

Saturday 19th November 2015.
Schedule time of departure for Bauchi was 09:00. Passengers arrived late at the airport after departure time and this delayed the flight’s departure.

Crew on Board the flight were: Captain Nikcevic VLADO
First Officer Adeoye AJIBOLA
Purser Joy LAWSON
Cabin Crew Christie Anne BASSEY
Cabin Crew Arit Tom ATON
Flight Dispatcher Eunice KANTIOK

Actual Time of Departure: Off Blocks 09:30 Airborne 09:57

Prior to leaving Abuja, the Flight dispatcher contacted the Airport Manager to advise that the aircraft was taxing out and he confirmed that they were ready to receive the flight.

The flight was uneventful en-route.

At 10:42 the aircraft touched down on Runway 35 at the Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport. The controller advised the crew that due the absence of marshallers and no ramp officials of any sort that parking would be at their own discretion.
At 10:44 the flight dispatcher on board contacted the Airport Manager to advise him that they were on the ground, to which he confirmed that he was seeing the aircraft on taxi and that they were waiting.
After parking the Captain reports that they waited for up to 10 minutes for the stairs to be brought to the aircraft but no assistance or stairs came to the aircraft. The Captain reported that he informed the passengers of the situation as they were beginning to get agitated. What was not known to the crew at the beginning of the flight was that the Groom of the wedding was on board the flight. The wedding was to be started in another 20 minutes.
At 10:57 the crew called the controller to enquire as to why there was no one to position the stairs to the aircraft and he was told then that the stairs had “just broken down” and that the Fire services are making provisions to sort it out.

After waiting for another five to seven minutes the passengers became furious as they were now getting very late for the wedding ceremony. The Captain went to the cabin and explained to them that he may have to take them back to Abuja as they cannot disembark due lack of stairs. The group insisted that he cannot keep them on board the aircraft and he considered that their anger was becoming potentially threatening for the crew to take them back to Abuja.
The alternative which the Fire services provided was a ladder which the passengers took as an option and on their own free will decided to use the ladder to disembark against the wishes of the Captain and crew. The Captain allowed this procedure in order to reduce what he thought was a volatile situation.
At 12:55 with the airstair connected to the aircraft, passengers boarded the return flight to Abuja. The aircraft taxied out at 13:10 and was airborne at 13:24 arriving into Abuja at 14:05.
Below is an email which we received from one of the passengers in the group, please note his contact details.
On Sat, Dec 19, 2015 at 16:28, Sadiq Waziri

Good evening sir,
Ajibola Adeoye (F/O on our flight) contacted me to ask about what happened today and I must say we are solely responsible for the decision to disembark using a ladder.
We were running late, and could not spare time for the repair of the air stairs
However, there was only one air stairs in the whole of Bauchi (a so called international airport) and the air stairs was not even serviceable
I think this is more of NAMA, FAAN, NCAA and all the responsible bodies for aviation in Nigeria’s fault.
They should look into providing better standards and services especially with how ridiculously they charge companies for services that are not even rendered or if at all rendered, only partially.
Besides the slight inconvenience on arrival, the service provided by your company was very satisfactory
Best Regards,
Waziri Sadiq
The following has been reached in the last 24 hours;
1. An investigation into the event has been called, the results of which could lead to changes in our operational procedures.
2. Following the findings of this investigation, it will become a part of our training and CRM re-currency training exercises.
3. The decision to perform any further charters into Bauchi is suspended on B737 equipment but we can consider charters into Bauchi on Q400 or Dash 8-300 aircraft.
4. Any future charters to destinations that are not areas of scheduled commercial flight operations must have at least one permanent Ground Handling company on ground before we will consider.
5. We will continue to operate our aircraft safely and within the guidelines of the law and the company must continue to ensure the safety and security of our crews and passengers.
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////The Acting Managing Director of Aero, Mr Russel Leefon has said that the airline

(L-R) Wing Commander, Nuhu Hassan, Dir. Of ATS, NAF, Squadron Leader, Ian Partridge, Chief of Staff, British Military Advisory Team, M. M Issah, Deputy. Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), N. A Ibrahim, Deputy, Comptroller General, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) NAMA MD, Engr. Ibrahim Abdulsalam, DG, NCAA, Capt. Usman Muhtar, Group. Capt. Simon Peter, Military Commandant, Nnamdi Azikiwe Int’l Airport, Abuja and Mr T S Minti, Director, Enforcement, National hqtrs, DSS, during the demonstration of Aircraft e-Clearance Module to Defence Corp and other security agencies by NAMA in Abuja.