Business Hilights
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Ethiopian Airbus that landed first after runway repairs diverted from Kaduna, risky after all


More details have emerged showing that the celebrated Ethiopian Airbus A350-900 was not originally Abuja bound from Addis Ababa but was diverted midair without prior notice to passengers.

Aviation analysts who barred their mind on the development said the scenario was a misnomer and abuse of aviation safety standard.

The diversion angle of the flight was revealed by one of the passengers who in an interview after the celebrated landing, decried the development, saying “We boarded to land in Kaduna. Nobody told us anything near to a possible landing in Abuja”.

“As am talking to you now, my driver and car are waiting for me at Kaduna and look at me here in Abuja. I think we are supposed to be told about the change even though many of us may wish to land in Abuja, but we are supposed to be told earlier.

However, Business Hilights observed that after the landing, the airport authorities arranged a transit bus that took Kaduna bound passengers back to the City of Kaduna for them to carry on their businesses.

Checks at the Ethiopian Airline Desk at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport showed that the decision to divert the flight to Abuja was taken without due consultation as passengers manifest read Kaduna International Airport and they were not carried along.

One of the staff who pleaded anonymity said “From our schedule chart, that plane is supposed to land in Kaduna and not Abuja that was why many of us said it took us by surprise even though we are happy”.

Another official said “Just as we were the first international flight to land in Kaduna after the relocation, we want to be the first to land in Abuja after the repairs which we have done”.

He however shielded responses on why the passengers were not duly informed on the diversion even though many of them were Abuja bound and happy.

An aviation expert who pleaded anonymity said “the decision to divert midair and the allowance by air traffic managers at Abuja were all against the laid down aviation safety standards”.

Investigations further revealed that issues that would have cropped up following the diversion from Kaduna to Abuja may have been swept aside because there was no error or issues in the landing ahead of time.

Decision by the airline on Monday that it will land its brand new Airbus A350-900 on the new runway on Tuesday to mark the official reopening of the airport on Wednesday was not privy to the passengers which experts say, amounts to abuse of passengers right to flight information.

The Airline’s Traffic and Sales Manager, Firiehiwot Mekonnen, had made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Abuja but the passengers were boarded as Kaduna passengers.

Ms. Mekonnen said that the aircraft would land in Abuja on its first day of operation from Addis Ababa and that it would remain on Abuja route.

The airline launched its first A350-900 Airbus on the London Heathrow route August last year. It has three of the plane in its fleet and awaits the delivery of nine more before 2019.

She said that the decision to celebrate the inaugural flight to Abuja was because of the airline’s commitment to the Nigerian market.

According to the manager, the 313-passenger capacity aircraft is expected to land at 11.15 am to be the first aircraft to land at the newly rehabilitated Abuja runway.

Business Hilights recalls that when Abuja Airport was closed on March 8 for repairs on its runway and flight operations were diverted to Kaduna International Airport, Ethiopian Airlines was the first to land its new Boeing 787 in Kaduna.

The airline, being the only international carrier that agreed to operate in Kaduna, had maintained consistent operation at the airport in the last six weeks.