The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO), has launched an investigation into its own staff, following allegations of suspected sabotage after a piece of its equipment collided with an Air Peace aircraft.
The NAHCO, a Nigeria based ground handling operator, has since suspended its staff after the incident, which took place on January 4, 2023, reported Nigerian local media This Day.
The aircraft, an Airbus A320 registered ES-SAZ, was damaged after NAHCO staff rammed a piece of equipment they were driving into the aircraft, the report reveals.
NAHCO management, including Dr. Sola Obabori, Group Executive Director, Business and Corporate Services, has described the incident as ‘unfortunate’, having shared a ‘cordial’ business relationship with Air Peace since the ground handler’s inception in 1979.
A statement signed by Obabori read, “We have invited the relevant regulatory and security agencies to swing into action and especially investigate the subject of sabotage and take an independent look at the incident.
“To enable proper and unhindered investigation, some senior operations officials have been suspended, while some others are being investigated,” the statement continued.
Three incidents in one month raise sabotage suspicion
According to a Nigerian Flight Deck report, Air Peace, has also called on relevant authorities for the investigation.
Air Peace spokesman Stanley Olisa stressed that the airline suspected sabotage, after a total of three incidents of a similar nature occurred within a single month.
“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,” said Olisa in the report.
“This is going to cause revenue loss for us as an airline. The aircraft was scheduled to operate several flights today (January 4, 2023), 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,” Olisa added.
According to the Nigerian Flight Deck report, Dr. Sola Obabori ruled out sabotage from any of the NAHCO’s staff, stating that Air Peace was a priority client for the ground handler.
“It is not possible for us to deliberately and maliciously damage our key customer’s equipment. We are doing the best that we can to take care of our customers. Air Peace is a key customer of NAHCO without any doubt,” Obabori said.
He added, “Our staff are well-trained, but accidents do happen. You will agree with me that aircraft do crash due to human error. In this particular case, our operative was driving to attend to another flight that arrived before Air Peace.”