PH Airport Reopens After Plane Overshoot Runaway …200 Passengers, Crew Escape Unhurt

Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, in Rivers State.

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency has reopened the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, in Rivers State following Saturday’s incident involving an Air Peace aircraft at the airport.
The General manager, Public Relations, NAMA, Mr Khalid Emele, confirmed the development to newsmen yesterday in Lagos.
Emele said Notice To Airmen has been issued to airlines concerning the reopening of the runway which was closed after an Air Peace Flight P47291 overshot the runway on Saturday.
Also, General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu confirmed that the B737-500 aircraft had been towed from the site.
Yakubu said the aircraft was removed from the runway by FAAN in collaboration with the Nigeria Aviation Handling Company and the China Civil Engineering Construction Company.
Our correspondent reports that the Air Peace aircraft with registration number 5N-BRN from Abuja carrying 94 passengers and six crew members on board had overshot the runway at the Port Harcourt Airport.
However, all the passengers and crew members were safely evacuated after the incident which is already being probed by the Accident Investigation Bureau.
Meanwhile, there was palpable sigh of relief, as Air Peace Flight P47291 with about 200 passengers and crew onboard from Abuja, last Saturday, skidded off the runway while landing at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
However, there was no casualty in the incident, which occurred at 3.42p.m.
Mrs Yakubu, who confirmed the incident, said it resulted from the heavy downpour at the airport.
Yakubu said although the Boeing 737-500 aircraft skidded off the runway, the pilot was able to stop the aircraft without causing any damage to the plane.
She noted that in spite of the rain, the undercarriage of the aircraft did not sink into the soil.
“All passengers disembarked successfully. There was no casualty,” the FAAN spokeswoman said.
The Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Oluwatoyin Olajide, attributed the incident to the flooding of the runway.
“We confirm that Air Peace Flight P47291 Abuja-Port Harcourt had a runway excursion upon landing at the Port Harcourt International Airport on June 22, due to downpour.
“Our professional crew quickly recovered within seconds of the incident, and the aircraft was successfully normalised.
“Our esteemed passengers on board the flight were calm during the incident, and disembarked normally.
“Our team of experts and the authorities are currently reviewing the incident, and we will give our cooperation for a thorough exercise”, Olajide added.
The Tide reports that flight operations were brought to a halt Saturday afternoon following the near-crash incident, which threw the entire airport into serious panic.
Although there was a timely intervention and rescue operations by officers of FAAN, and other agencies at the airport, the trauma due to the incident left on the passengers made them to defy the heavy rainfall to leave the tarmac, which they ordinarily would not have done under normal circumstances.
The passengers, in the mixed feeling of joy and surprise, jumped into the rain, expressing gratitude to God for their miraculous safety.
The Tide observed that dignitaries like the former Head of State, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) and his entourage, who wanted to fly back to Abuja, after witnessing the commissioning of the waste management plant by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday, were stranded, as they could not use the airport because of obstruction of flight operations by the stranded plane.
The Tide also gathered from officials at the airport that due process would be followed in the investigation of the incident before the resumption of normal flight operations.