- Aircraft hovered for several minutes before runway was cleared
- FAAN apologises to airline, passengers
An Air Peace plane was delayed from landing at the Akure Airport on Saturday as cows took over the runway.
What could have been a tragedy was averted when the pilot of the Air Peace Flight P4 7002, which flew in from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos to Akure, capital of Ondo State, sighted the cows on the runway while approaching the airport.
The aircraft had to hover for seven minutes so that cows that took over the runway could be dispersed for the plane to land.
Confirming the incident, Air Peace Corporate Communications Manager, Mr. Chris Iwarah, said, “We confirm that flight P4 7002 from Lagos had to delay landing into Akure Airport today (Saturday) when the pilot-in-command sighted cows on the runway at about 12.15pm.
“On being alerted by control tower, aviation security personnel of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN AVSEC) quickly intervened and cleared the runway.
“The flight was eventually cleared to land after about seven minutes. Our guests (passengers) on board were all calm while the delay lasted. The aircraft departed for Lagos at about 1.06 pm with full escort from FAAN security personnel.”
Writing via his twitter handle, Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, who was at the airport to board a flight at the time of the incident, said, “Today, while at the Akure Airport to board Air Peace commercial flight to Lagos, I witnessed cows taking over the airport runway and preventing aircraft No. 5NBQQ from landing for more than 15 minutes.”
He commended the pilot of the flight, Captain Inyang, for saving the lives of the passengers.
In a quick reaction to the incident, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) apologised to the airline and passengers for the incursion.
A statement signed by the agency’s General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, FAAN said, “The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria wishes to apologise to Air Peace Airlines and our esteemed passengers for a runway incursion incident that prevented an Akure airport bound flight from landing for some minutes. The Air Peace flight, which left Lagos for Akure could not land immediately as some cows had strayed into the runway of the airport.
“However, normalcy was restored quickly, as officers of the aviation security department quickly dispersed the cows from the runway and the aircraft was cleared for landing. The Authority will like to assure travellers and the general public that efforts are already ongoing to close the gap that aided this incident.”
THISDAY learnt from a source at the Akure airport that cattle invasion of the airport runway was a regular occurrence because the airport did not have perimeter wall, which was one of the required security facilities to prevent access to the airside of the airport by unwarranted persons, livestock or wild animals.
Recently, it was reported that a headstrong cow found on the Benin airport runway was removed with the assistance of a herdsman.
About two years ago, an Arik Air aircraft killed an antelope at the Port Harcourt International Airport runway as it landed on the animal.
FAAN said it had concluded plans to erect perimeter and security wall at those airports that presently do not have the facility.
The Managing Director of the agency, Saleh Dunoma, said the most urgent development programme FAAN had embarked on now was to provide those safety and critical security facilities at the airside of the airports.