ETHIOPIAN Airlines, owners of the ill-fated Boeing 737 Max – 8 that crashed on Sunday, have opened condolence registers in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Enugu.
There were 157 passengers aboard the plane which was flying from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Kenya.
The airline opened the registers at its offices in the four cities for the victims of ET Flight 302.
The development came in the wake of the global outrage triggered by the crash.
Two Nigerians – Ambassador Abiodun Bashau and Prof Pius Adesanmi – were among the victims.
The General Manager of Ethiopian Airlines in Nigeria, Mrs. Firihiewot Mekonnen, yesterday received the first set of visitors at the airline’s Lagos Office.
At the Abuja Airport, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunomah, was received by Ethiopian Airlines Sales Manager Tilahun Tadesse.
Mrs. Mekonnen thanked Nigerians for standing by her organisation “in this moment of grief”.
“We have always counted on Nigeria as an African partner and brother and this sad occasion once again proves the bond. We commiserate with Nigeria over the loss to humanity of the two great Nigerians on that flight. We have since reached out to the families involved. Ethiopian Airlines will not abandon its responsibilities to them.”
Ethiopian Airlines has grounded all B737-8Max airplanes in its fleet. The airline was not flying the B737 Max-8 on its Nigerian routes. The B777, B787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 are the aircraft deployed daily to Nigeria.
The crash has raised questions about the safety of the aircraft type.
The two crashes involving Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air has further put a question mark on the safety integrity of Boeing 737 Max-8.
Investigations have been launched into the circumstances leading to the crash but there heightened anxiety among global passengers booked on airline flight for carriers that have Boeing 737- Max 8 on their fleet.
Britain yesterday led other nations, including Malaysia, Oman, Australia, China and Singapore to temporarily ban the aircraft model in their airspaces.
A local operator, Air Peace, which had ordered for 10 units of the aircraft type, said it was not suspending its order.
It, however, promised to watch ongoing investigations before taking a decisive step.
Industry regulator Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) gave assurance on the state of aircraft flying in Nigeria’s airspace.
The NCAA said there was no cause for worry, as no Boeing 737 Max-8 was being operateed in the country.
Its spokesman, Sam Adurogboye, assured the flying public of their safety, stating that there is no cause for alarm.
He said in a statement: “Presently, the accident aircraft type, Boeing 737 Max-8 is not in operation in the country. However, the authority, in line with its Safety Oversight mandate enshrined in the Civil Aviation Act 2006, is consciously monitoring the development (s) with a view to take the necessary steps that will enhance the safety of all aircraft in operation within the Nigerian airspace.”
“This is to assure the public that NCAA will continue to ensure that safety regulations are strictly adhered to for the safety of all in Nigeria. Our heart is with the Airline and families of the victims of the accident.”
Also yesterday, United States (U.S.) regulators ordered Boeing to make urgent improvements to the model and insisted that they would take action if safety issues are detected.
But the U.S. demand was not enough to reassure aviation authorities in Britain and four other countries — Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and Oman — who temporarily banned all 737 MAX planes from their airspace.
China, an important market for Boeing, had already ordered domestic airlines to suspend operations of the plane Monday, same step taken by Indonesia.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement headlined “Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft” that “as a precautionary measure” it had decided “to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace”.
Aviation regulators in Singapore, a global air travel hub and popular transit point for long-haul travellers, said they would work with the country’s main airport and “the affected airlines to minimise any impact to travelling passengers”.
One Singaporean airline, SilkAir, uses 737 MAX aircraft while a handful of foreign airlines operate the planes in the city-state.
In its statement announcing the 737 MAX ban, Malaysia’s aviation regulator noted the two recent fatal accidents involving the model.
Britain joined four other countries in banning Boeing 737 MAX planes from their airspace as a growing number of airlines around the world grounded the jets following a second deadly accident in just five months.
Low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle said Tuesday it would suspend flights of its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft until further notice.
Norwegian, which operates 18 of the planes, will keep them grounded pending advice from aviation authorities, Operations Chief Tomas Hesthammer said.