By Odunewu Segun
Air Peace has condemned the recent attacks on its staff by some passengers of the Airline who were stranded following the decisions of the airline to ground two aircrafts over an accident on Thursday.
The airline operation was crippled on Friday following the protest which the airline blamed on security agents failure to halt the trend of members of the public invading the airport facilities to attack airline workers.
In a press statement issued at the weekend by Chris Iwarah, the airline’s corporate communications manager, it warned that it would no longer condone members of the public endangering the lives of its workers.
According to the statement, in Abuja, a former top government official, whose flight returned to Abuja when it could not land in Enugu due to the closure of the airport at 7pm, refused to disembark and incited others to join him in doing so.
The airline said the aircraft was eventually detained overnight in Abuja. “The action of the former federal lawmaker and other unruly passengers in our different stations worsened the already difficult schedule we were making effort to save,” it said.
Iwarah in the statement said while the airline was making effort to resolve the challenge with the decision to commence our operations very early on Friday, a truck operated by Skyway Aviation Handling Company rammed into another of its aircraft at the Benin Airport and the aircraft was again declared unserviceable.
The airline said that the aircraft involved in the Benin incident was scheduled to do seven sectors, including the Abuja-Benin service. It said: “Given the development, we had no choice than to cancel our Abuja-Benin service and asked those who were willing to reschedule for Saturday to do so, while others should be immediately refunded.”
He said some passengers, who were to fly with the airline from Abuja to Benin, however, went violent, attacking the airline staff in Abuja and almost killed its duty manager. “It took the intervention of Air Force personnel, who were reportedly called in by the airport authorities, to rescue our duty manager from the mob.”
“In Lagos, some other passengers attacked and almost killed our station manager. Also in Calabar, unruly passengers had an unchallenged day, preventing our aircraft from flying.”
The airline said it was surprising all the attacks could take place at the nation’s airports, a high-security environment, without any challenge from security agents. “The situation has, therefore, left us with no choice than to resort to our right of self-defense to prevent our staff from being killed.”