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Air Peace Sunday rejected claims that three of its crew members had absconded from the Lagos State quarantine facility.
The airline Chief Operating Officer, Mrs. Toyin Olajide, said in a statement in Lagos that all the crew members that operated the Boeing B777-200ER (P4 5-NBVE) aircraft are still quarantined under the supervision of the Lagos State government.
The crew which included six pilots, eight cabin crew, two engineers and one dispatch officer were in the aircraft that airlifted medical supplies and members of the Chinese medical team who arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on April 8.
The Air Peace chief said the crew members were tested for coronavirus at the onset of the flight to China, adding that they all tested negative for the disease.
Olajide said the airline followed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) protocol to ensure that the crew members were protected from any form of exposure to the virus.
She said: “The Chinese medical team boarded the aircraft from the central door and stayed in the business class cabin before the take-off of the flight to Nigeria.”
She added that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) approved standard protocol to protect flight crew during the COVID-19 pandemic and those of NCAA were adopted.
Olajide said that the crew members did not know that they would be quarantined on arrival, but when the aircraft landed in Abuja, the concerned authorities suggested it.
“ Air Peace argued against it because it followed NCAA protocol in conducting the flight, so discussions on it was inconclusive when the flight headed to Lagos,” she added.
According to her, the airline later learnt that while the flight was on its way to Lagos, officials at the Abuja airport directed the Lagos State government to quarantine the crew on arrival.
“While the engineers and the dispatch team went down to the foot of the aircraft to secure it, the Lagos State government’s health team took the pilots and the cabin crew to quarantine.
”Ignorant that they would be quarantined, the engineers and the dispatcher finished their work and went home, but later the Lagos State government contacted Air Peace and said that the engineers and the dispatcher ought to be quarantined.
”We called on them and they went to the quarantine facility where they have been ever since then.
”So, the report that indicated that members of our crew ran away from quarantine is not true. It is a report written in bad taste and it is not good because the crew did a heroic thing and need to be commended instead of being vilified,” Olajide concluded.