An Air Peace aircraft departing the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, and headed for Abuja Airport was allegedly poached on the runway of the airport by unknown miscreants on Thursday night.
The attack on the Boeing 737 aircraft allegedly occurred at 7:35pm on the runway of the airport.
A statement by Mr. Chris Iwarah to journalists said that suspected thieves opened cargo hold of Flight 7138 holding for departure on Runway 18R (A1) of the Lagos Airport.
According to Iwarah, the suspects purportedly forced open the cargo of the aircraft, which led to the delayed departure of the aircraft as the entire aircraft was screened again by security operatives at the airport.
The statement said: “We are sincerely grateful to all our wonderful guests on board Flight 7138 for their support, patience and cooperation throughout the precautionary security checks conducted by Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) squad, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Aviation Security (AVSEC) and our security team after suspected thieves opened the cargo hold of our aircraft holding for departure on Runway 18R (A1) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos at about 7.35pm on Thursday, February 08, 2018.
“Pilot-in-Command, Capt. Adesola Arasi had to contact control tower when he was alerted by the light that came on in the cockpit suggesting that the cargo hold was opened for about 15 seconds and immediately shut.
“In line with our high security standards and the huge value we place on the lives of our guests and crew, Capt. Arasi insisted on having EOD squad check Flight APK 7138 before takeoff to be doubly sure nothing was deposited in the cargo hold by the suspected thieves to endanger the lives of our guests and crew.
“Our guests, who were fully briefed of the development by the pilot-in-command, were advised to disembark from the aircraft and board an Air Peace bus while the joint security operation by EOD, FAAN AVSEC and our security team lasted. The Lagos-Abuja flight was cleared by the security experts after exhaustive screening of the aircraft lasting about 30 minutes.
“The flight eventually took off at 9.30pm and safely landed in Abuja at about 10.23pm. Our satisfied guests commended the professionalism of Capt. Arasi and his team as well as the high safety standards of Air Peace.”
Iwarah assured that the airline would continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of its guests, crew and equipment.
Iwarah recalled that such incident was not the first time it would be happening at the runway.