Last week, the management of Air Peace cried out about how an equipment belonging to the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) rammed into one of its aircraft, not only damaging the aircraft elevator, but prevented it from operating its Lagos/Owerri bound flight and other 10 scheduled flights for the day in question.
The incident was said to have occurred when some personnel in charge of the equipment carelessly mishandled it.
According to the airline management, the latest incident happened to be the third in the series of such unfortunate incidents the airline had suffered in the hands of the personnel of NAHCO.
As expected, with the incessant damages on its aircraft either directly or indirectly, the management of the airline wasted no time in accusing the handling company of sabotage and therefore, called for an investigation.
In a swift response, the concerned company, NAHCO management through its
Group Executive Director, Business and Corporate Services (GED), Dr Sola Obabori. though confirmed the incident, however ruled out any sabotage.
NAHCO, while suspending the officials directly involved, invited the relevant regulatory and security agencies to swiftly investigate the subject of sabotage and take an independent look at the incident.
The development has continued to generate controversies amongst key players for the obvious reason that it was the third time it happened between the two companies with the airline in question being the client and the ground handling company as the service provider.
Again, it is normal for the airline to cry out in view of the financial losses and immediate disruptions to its flights caused by the careless attitude of the NAHCO personnel following the damage.
Therefore, in line with the analogy of the renowned novelist, lan Flemings James Bond in his work, Goldfinger which said; ‘Once is happenstance; twice is coincidence; the third time it’s enemy action’, any action taken by the airline against the handling company irrespective of the relationship between them is justified.
In the words of the spokesperson of the airline, Stanley Olisa: “This is the third time in one month. The aircraft is now grounded and we don’t know when it will be up again. The NAHCO staff had no reason to be where he was. He was not assigned to the aircraft and how he rammed into our aircraft is still shocking.
“This is going to cause revenue loss for us as an airline. The aircraft was scheduled to operate several flights today (Wednesday), but could not do so, causing flight disruptions and delays. The authorities should investigate the incident and take necessary actions. We have made a formal complaint to NAHCO management on the development.”
While awaiting the outcome of the investigation into the unfortunate incident, there is the need for a proper investigation into all areas without underrating any angle in view of the allegations raised by the airline that the personnel directly involved in the incident was not supposed to be at the place the incident happened.
Among such areas that require investigations include: why the affected personnel was allowed to handle the equipment when he was not rostered to be there on the day In question, why the officials of NAHCO for three consecutive times have damaged the aircraft of one of its biggest clients.
It should also be checked if the workers of the handling company and even those of other handling companies are well trained to handle such equipment without jeopardizing safety and creating unnecessary hardship for its clients.
The need to thoroughly look into this incident and the previous ones becomes pertinent as it will go a long way in calling the attention of NAHCO and other sister handling companies to the critical need for them to check the competency of their workers and the level of their loyalty to the company.
Above all, the insurance stability of the company in times like this is very crucial in finding out the capacity and the ability of the insurance company of NAHCO or any company found wanting in times like this.
Obviously, the latest damage done to the aircraft of Air Peace airline, according to information gathered, is in the ratio of millions of naira at this critical time when airlines are already operating under a very precarious situation.
Above all, NAHCO in particular, needs to look inward and be up and doing as it carries out its roles of providing services if it still wants to retain its clients many of who are foreign airlines for without doubt, the incident would have attracted higher consequences if it had involved an international carrier.