Arik, Kabo aircraft in air incidents
There was tension at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja on Friday as a Benin-bound Arik Air flight returned to Abuja for landing after hovering over Benin Airport for about 45 minutes.
Our correspondent gathered that the aircraft left Abuja at about 4pm but could not land as a result of bad weather in Benin after its pilot made several unsuccessful attempts to descend.
It was learnt that the passengers became tensed when the approximately 30 minutes flight took over 50 minutes.
Sources at the Abuja airport told our correspondent that the passengers were seen praising God after the flight returned and successfully landed in the Federal Capital.
The air return incident happened barely 24 hours after an Associated Airlines chartered flight conveying the corpse of former Ondo State Governor, Mr. Olusegun Agagu, crashed in Lagos, killing 13 out of the 20 persons on board.
It was gathered that the pilot of the Arik flight explained that he could not land the aircraft due to heavy rainfall in Benin, which caused poor visibility as well as a waterlogged and slippery runway.
The development, according to airport sources, created tension in the flight. Passengers silently and openly prayed and sang songs until the aircraft touched down at the Abuja airport.
'The downpour was much to the extent that an attempt to land the plane in close-by Esubi Airstrip in Warri proved abortive too,' a source said.
A senior official at the Abuja airport told our correspondent that the airline showed willingness to refund the fares of the affected passengers.
The official said those who fares were not refunded were asked to come to the airport the next day for the journey.
When contacted, the spokesperson for Arik Air, Mr. Banji Ola, told our correspondent that the airline followed stipulated rules that guide flight operations globally.
He said, 'Nothing happened on Saturday. What happened on Friday was as a result of bad weather in Benin and the air return was normal for that is according to industry standard globally.'