I Have So Many Questions About This Lagos Airport Robbery…

This story is bizarre on so many levels. GhanaWeb has the story of how an Africa World Airways pilot unleashed gas to foil an armed robbery attempt by thieves at Lagos Airport, prior to a flight to Accra:

Robbers operating within the perimeter fence of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos on Tuesday evening sought to break into the aircraft and steal the luggage of passengers.

The brazen attack and attempt to burglarize a Ghana-bound CRJ jet was the latest attack upon an aircraft preparing for takeoff from Nigeria’s biggest city. The burglars opened a cargo door of the CRJ aircraft, tore up the cargo hold bag holders and tried to steal passenger bags.

But the experienced Ghanaian pilot, recognizing what was happening, unleashed hot gas on the thieves, scaring them away.

I’m not sure whether to be impressed or dismayed that the pilot knew what was happening, and had a strategy for how to deal with something like this. I’m not exactly sure how the unleashing of gas works in this case, but it seems to have worked.

The flight ended up being delayed by two hours as police anti-bomb units were called to check on the aircraft for safety. The craziest part? This didn’t even seem to be an isolated event, as this has happened multiple times in the past few weeks:

In the past few weeks, there have been similar attacks on some aircraft at the airport as they prepared to take off.

How the heck is “robbers operating within the perimeter fence” of a major international airport a thing?! I’d also like to briefly point out how when the US electronics ban was introduced in March 2017, flights from Lagos weren’t impacted by it. So they inconvenienced passengers traveling from Abu Dhabi, which has a US Pre-Clearance facility and very thorough security, but not passengers traveling on Delta from Lagos, where they apparently have robbers operating within the perimeter fence of the airport…

Lastly, is it just me, or does Africa World Airways’ plane look photoshopped?!

(Tip of the hat to Sean M, featured image courtesy of Sm105)

Comments

  1. “The brazen attack and attempt to burglarize a Ghana-bound CRJ jet”

    First time I have ever seen the word ‘burglarize’ haha

  2. a) The aircraft was an ERJ-145 rather than a CRJ as indicated.

    b) I took that photo in Kumasi back in 2012 during our demo flights for the AOC. I can assure you that it’s not photoshopped. 🙂

  3. I’m guessing by “hot gas” they mean jet exhaust? Releasing fuel would be suicidal for the pilot and passengers.

  4. I always assumed once all aircraft doors (like cargo doors) were locked for takeoff that they couldn’t be opened until the pilots flipped some sort of switch or something after landing. I guess not.

  5. Time to agree on the sh1thole status of this place? Funny how the world proves our President right in reverse all the time huh.

  6. @William Y 17 kids were murdered inside of a high school, a man delivering ubereats murdered his customer, this was just this week, this country has no right to call any other a sh1thole

  7. I guess “unleashed hot gas” means exhaust from the engines. So he throttled up and turned the back of the plane to them.

  8. I’m glad they caught the “burglars”. One of those suitcases contained the 5 million (minus $88 for processing fees) that my friend the Nigerian prince gave to me out of the kindness of his heart.

  9. Theft from checked baggage is common practice in Lagos Everyone seems to place all their valuables in their cases knowing the situation there All those huge cases bursting at the seams from Europe and beyond .. It’s also a big issue in jo’burg

  10. The pilot might have engaged the reverse thrusters to scare the burglarizers. That type of jet can actually back up just using its own thrust, so that tactic could be quite effective.

  11. I have taken this flight quite a few times.

    Here are a few things to consider when taking flights from Lagos recently:

    – I have been asked for bribes or little gifts 6 times (entrance, first security screening and second security screening, check-in desk, third security screening and at the aircraft).
    – You get a pat down at least 4 times to check if you really didn’t have any valuables.
    – Once at the gate, you have to open your suitcase again for another check (4th security check).
    – You get a final pat down on your way to the aircraft (standard for all flights in Nigeria when no retractable bridges are used) and you better hold on onto all your belongings.
    – AfricanWorld is actually one of the few reliable airlines in Eastern-Africa and I admire them for that in this tough environment.

    I can totally relate to the experience.

  12. A few years ago, a friend of mine owned a house on the bay in Lagos. A dead body washed ashore. He called the police. They arrived 10 hours later. When they came, they prodded the body with wooden sticks until it floated out into the bay. “Now it’s the problem of the bay police,” they said, laughing. Then they left.

  13. William Y – it depends on someone’s viewpoint (and level of ignorance) as many would say our country is the #1 shithole (and your president the #1 shithole president) after the latest (of many) school shooting massacres.

  14. Africa World Airlines is actually pretty interesting. They are majority owned by Hainan Airlines and use their old planes (though not too old). Everything on the plane is still in Chinese. My experience flying them domestically in Ghana was quite pleasant and the seats were quite comfortable.

    Can’t comment on Lagos airport, though Ghana’s smaller airports leave a lot to be desired. Funny how the rules for security checks seem to change every time you arrive to the airport…

  15. Hi Lucky – My wife and I are both proud OMAAT readers, AWA flyers (actually quite a transformational airline in West Africa aviation), and Lagos residents. We love your blog and will continue to read. Keep up the good work!

    Best

  16. Ben you maybe were too young when signs were posted in many US airports that the Secretary of Transportation declared this airport to be not certified for international norms:

    “From 1992 through 2000, the US Federal Aviation Administration posted warning signs in all US international airports advising travelers that security conditions at Lagos Airport did not meet ICAO minimum standards.”

    Hmmmm guess why.

  17. An ERJ145 captain friend said the pilot discharged the baggage compartment fire extinguisher which is halon gas that sucks all the oxygen out of your lungs.

    When I operated ‘mainframe’ computers that occupied whole rooms, we had 30 seconds to evacuate if the fire alarm rang, then the room would be flooded with this gas.

  18. @ Maria “burglarize” is a real word … according to the dictionary it’s a North American word for burgle.

    @ Patsy Walker – comedy gold!!

  19. Pan Am…
    Remember Pan Am ? I guess it speaks for my age.

    Pan Am had a great PA announcement when landing in Lagos (The flight was JFK – Dakar – Monrovia – Lagos – Nairobi):
    “Transit Passengers may disembark if they wish to do so but we advise them no to”.

    Fact is the Airport Police tried to racket passengers, sometimes prevented them from re-boarding and the airline could do nothing about it.

  20. If you think Lagos Airport is bad, try Port Harcourt. Travelling is always an adventure, sometimes good sometimes bad.

  21. @Gertrude – HNA Group is not a majority shareholder in Africa World Airlines. They are the single largest shareholder, but the other 3 major shareholders (SAS Ghana, China-Africa Development Fund and SSNIT) actually hold the majority between them.

  22. …Some years back a KQ plane was robbed by bandits jumping the fence under cover of darkness and rolling rocks across the runway – enough to make the aircraft pull to a stop. They then opened hold 5 (rear hold where last minute bags to aircraft are often stored) and happily emptied the contents. You gotta love Lagos. LOL

  23. @ A : I guess you have not visited many African Airports, over there it looks like a “MUST BE” on your CV. Not only in Lagos.

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