By Adekunle Williams and Solomon Asowata
Air Peace has confirmed that three passengers were on Monday taken away by security agents for interrogation after they disrupted and delayed its 6:30 Lagos-Abuja flight for three hours.
The airline’s Corporate Communications Manager, Mr Chris Iwarah, on Tuesday in Lagos, said security personnel from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had to be invited to restore order in a statement he released to newsmen.
He said: “We wish to confirm and set the records straight regarding the unruly and disruptive conduct of three passengers (two men and a lady) on our 6:30 Lagos-Abuja service on Sept. 11.
“During the pre-departure safety briefing by our crew, the three passengers began to query the seating arrangement of the aircraft.
“Efforts by our crew to let the passengers understand that the seating arrangement was as approved by both the FAA and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) were rebuffed.”
According to him, the pilot-in-command of the flight was later briefed by the crew to intervene but the passengers refused to cooperate with the captain.
Iwarah said they insisted on bringing the airline’s engineers on board to confirm the airworthiness of the aircraft.
He said:”The passengers insisted that the aircraft was unsafe and would suffer the fate of one other domestic airline which had one of its aircraft crashed some years ago.
“The unruly passengers prevented our crew from continuing with the safety briefing.
“Understandably, other passengers on board the flight became apprehensive and insisted that unruly passengers should be taken off the flight.
“The pilot-in-command, therefore, had no choice than to request the unruly passengers to disembark. The passengers, however, refused to comply, leading to the captain of the flight calling for the intervention of FAAN security personnel.
“The passengers also refused to refrain from their disruptive conduct upon the intervention of FAAN security personnel.”
Iwarah said after about three hours delay, two of the disruptive passengers eventually agreed to disembark, while the lady among them was adamant.
“She only agreed to disembark upon other passengers’ intervention after delaying the flight for almost three hours.
“The three passengers were eventually taken away by FAAN security personnel for interrogation.
”They were later transferred them to the police for further investigation,” he said.
Iwarah said that the aircraft’s seating arrangement remained as approved by the both domestic and international aviation authorities, including NCAA and FAA, and in compliance with global best practices in the aviation industry.
“While we will continue to treat all our valued guests with the greatest respect and courtesy, we will never allow a tiny minority of customers jeopardise the safety and comfort of our customers and the overall safe operation of our flights.
“The unfortunate incident of Monday is now being addressed by the nation’s security agencies. We trust the security agencies to resolve the incident without bias,” he said.