Minister suspends airport officials, orders probe of fiasco
Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has ordered suspension of three officials of the Nnamdi Aikiwe International Airport Abuja over the recent incident involving Turkish Airlines at the airport.
The suspended officials, according to him, are the airport manager, terminal manager and head of airport security. They were ordered to handover to their next in rank pending conclusion of the investigation.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has appealed to domestic airlines to liquidate outstanding debts to the authority and other aviation agencies in the country.
Sirika announced the sack notice for the officials while briefing newsmen shortly after listening to their explanations on the incident yesterday in Abuja. The minister’s action came on the heels of protest by passengers of the Turkish Airlines who arrived without their luggage. They consequently forced their way into the tarmac, breaching airport security in the process.
the minister said that the Ministry had also ordered thorough investigation to ascertain the cause of the breach, including why the airline brought in passengers without their luggage.
The minister said the explanation by the officials of the airport that the security personnel on duty were overpowered was not acceptable, ordering thorough investigation into the incident.
He stated that the actions of the passengers in forcing their way into the tarmac and blocking the aircraft from taking off was a security breach which must not be condoned.
He said: “We have ordered for the investigation into the matter immediately and all the people that are manning the various places, Airport Manager, Terminal Manager and Head of Security should handover to the next man in rank pending the outcome of the investigation.
“As to the airline also, the Consumer Protection Unit of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has been ordered to find out what happened, how compliant they are and deal with it accordingly,’’ he said.
Sirika said the ministry was yet get the flight manifest to be able to ascertain the number of passengers involved which he added were many in number.
According to him, they got agitated and apparently they got access into the prohibited area because there was security lapse.
in another development, the NCAA, in a statement issued by its Acting General Manager, Public Relations, Mr. Sam Adurogboye yesterday in Lagos, appealed on local airlines to pay up their debts to regulatory agencies amounting to some N6 billion.
Safety is a collective responsibility and we appreciate the cooperation from all stakeholders, particularly the airlines, toward safe operations in the outgoing year.
“The authority has, however, noticed with serious concern, the huge debts of airlines as a result of failure to promptly settle invoices as at when due. This poses serious financial challenges to the various parastatals that benefit from the five per cent Ticket, Charter and Cargo Sales (TSC) charges.
TSC is a charge collected for the agencies by airlines in trust, to be remitted to government coffers in order to avoid collection before flight.
“Consequently, the authority would be pleased to see that the Airlines put plans in place to ensure the full liquidation of all outstanding debts.
We thank God for a safe operation in the outgoing year and we look forward to safe and secure operations in the coming years,” the NCAA said.
According to the statement, the settlement of the debts will go a long way in assisting NCAA to fulfill its statutory obligations to the country.
It added that the authority was fully committed to strict enforcement of compliance to safety regulations in order to engender safe operations at all times.
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