Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo was among 393 passengers who had a close shave with death on Wednesday as the Ethiopian Airlines plane they were in found it difficult to land at Murtala Muhammed International airport in Lagos.
The Ethiopian Airlines aircraft, ET-901, had departed the Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa, at 9:10am, Ethiopian time (7am Nigerian time).
A NAN correspondent, who was among the passengers, said the almost five-hour flight from the Ethiopian capital to Lagos had been smooth until the pilot attempted to land at the Murtala Muhammed International airport.
Rather than landing on the first touch line of the runway, the pilot overshot it, due to rain and heavy wind, landing on the third touchline.
On realising this, the pilot quickly manouvered the plane back on air, flying out of the Lagos airport.
After hovering around between Lagos and areas suspected to be in Ogun State causing panic among passengers and crew members, the plane landed in Lagos airport, some 20 minutes after the initial false landing.
The atmosphere in the air bus upon landing was replica of what is obtainable in some Nigerian worship centres, as many passengers broke out into worship songs and clapping, while some fell to their knees in prayer.
Otori Jimoh Otan, duty manager and chief customer service (Nigeria) of the airline, told NAN that if the pilot had continued taxing down after landing on the third touch line, he would have overshot the runway.
“But this is an experienced pilot. He realised this immediately. Fortunately, the distance between when he realised the situation still permitted him to take off and renegotiate landing,” Otori said.
He added that the incident was not out of place, while confirming that the wind obscured the pilot’s vision.
Otori also disclosed that most of the aircraft that flew out of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport had to fly against the mid day heavy wind.
“These things happen. That is where the sophistication of the aircraft and experience of the cabin crew members come in,” he said.
“The aircraft is one of the best you can have around and we are fortunate to have pilots who know their onions ” he said.
Obasanjo had attended a Stakeholders Dialogue on Continental Trade and Strengthening Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in Ethiopia. The programme ended on Tuesday.