* Tragedy averted as pilot alerted control tower
The menace of Lagos Airport runway thieves is becoming alarming as suspected thieves on Thursday at about 7.35pm, opened the cargo hold of Air Peace Flight 7138 holding for departure on Runway 18R (A1) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
The development came just as the passengers praised the pilot-in-command for insisting on thorough security screening of the Abuja-bound flight after the incident.
The Corporate Communications Manager of Air Peace, Mr. Chris Iwarah, confirmed the incident, saying that the carrier’s crew acted in line with the high safety standards of the airline.
In a statement issued on Friday, Iwarah 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 Authorities of Nigeria Aviation Security 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.”
The airline, he assured, would continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of its guests, crew and equipment.
This kind of incident is not the first time it will be happening at the runway, as there was a recent incident involving a private jet where a luggage belonging to a Nigerian musician was alleged to be stolen by the airport runway thieves as the private jet was taxing at the tarmac after landing.