Passengers on Arik Air traveling from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos to Kotoka International Airport, Accra have a sad tale to tell concerning their unpleasant experience aboard the airline to the Ghana.
One of the passengers who did not reveal his name said that the incident occurred on Tuesday barely 35 minutes into the 55 minutes journey.
According to the passenger, the flight W3304 to Accra on a Dash 8 NextGen propeller aircraft, departed Lagos at 7.20pm, but barely 35 minutes into the journey, the passengers became uncomfortable following a big smoke emanating somewhere in the cabin.
To compound the woes of the passengers, the oxygen masks, which were supposed to aid breathing for passengers in case of an emergency like such, was deployed but was not functional.
This further threw the passengers into panic as the cabin crew only gave the passengers toilet tissues to cover their nostrils.
The passenger narrated his ordeal that; “I started perceiving something smelling like a burning stuff. Shortly after the guy sitting next to me asked if I perceived any smell of burning stuff and that confirmed my worst fears.
“Before you could say jack, smoke has filled the cabin. The air hostesses were busy scampering around opening the cabins and the lavatories to check if they could trace the source of the smoke without success.
“While that continued, the oxygen masks that were always being advertised during the safety demo prior to take-off couldn't be released instead we were handed tissue papers to use to cover our noses to minimize and filter out possible carbon monoxide inhalation.”
The passenger complained that about five minutes after the pilot announced to the passengers that the aircraft had smoke coming into the cabin and they could not identify the source of the smoke.
According to him, this made the cockpit crew to declare an emergency to the air traffic controllers in Kotoka airport.
The passenger stated that at that point, it was crystal clear to the passengers that their lives were in God's hands as everyone prayed to his or her Gods for protection.
“To the glory of God, the flight successfully landed by 8.15pm (7.15pm Accra time) to the waiting hands of Ghanaian emergency services at Kotoko International airport, Accra.
“We were evacuated into a waiting bus with instruction to leave everything behind in the cabin. Sadly there was no Arik official to address us neither was there any manner of first aid attention given to the passengers to manage stress and possible elevated blood pressures.
“I'm highly discouraged that this near crash major incident was not reported in the media two days after and I suspect a cover-up by Arik and the authorities. So I have chosen to use the social media to ensure this news gets out,” the passenger wrote.
But, in a save facing reaction, Arik Air through its spokesman, Mr. Adebanji Ola confirmed the near-miss accident in a press statement on Thursday night at 11: 12 pm.
Ola in the statement hinted that the aircraft, traveling from Lagos to Accra, Ghana, had smoke coming from its cabin on its way to Ghana.
The Arik spokesperson said the captain of the flight briefed the passengers accordingly assuring them that the aircraft was under control and safe for landing in Accra.
He, however said that the aircraft was currently parked in Accra while its team of engineers were conducting comprehensive inspections on the aircraft to ascertain the cause of the smoke, after which the aircraft would be flown without passengers to a maintenance facility for rectification and testing.
“The relevant aviation authorities in Ghana and Nigeria have been briefed appropriately on the incident,” he added.