Two hundred and twenty-two Muslim pilgrims, who were being airlifted by the Medview Airline from Ilorin International Airport to Saudi Arabia escaped death after birds attacked the aircraft.
Our correspondent in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, gathered on Sunday that the Boeing 767 aircraft conveying the 222 pilgrims was taxiing for take-off when it was struck by a brood of birds.
It was further learnt that the pilot displayed a high sense of professionalism by aborting the flight while the pilgrims, who were said to be unhurt were de-boarded.
It was also learnt that the incident took place between 7 and 8pm on Saturday.
Our correspondent also gathered that following the delay the incident had caused to the pilgrims, Medview Airline arranged a Boeing 747 aircraft to airlift the 460 pilgrims including the affected ones.
Medview Airline media consultant, Obuke Oyibotha, in a statement confirmed the bird strike.
He said, “Birds strike on Saturday night forced a Medview Airline to abort a Saudi bound flight at Ilorin airport. The B767 aircraft carrying 222 pilgrims was taxiing for take-off when it was struck by a brood of birds forcing the pilot to abort the flight.
“The 222 pilgrims were de-boarded without incident, and arrangements were made to provide another aircraft to airlift them. The airline assured all pilgrims that the schedule for their airlift to the Holy Land will not be affected by the incident. The airline on Saturday night flew a team of engineers and rotables to Ilorin to get the aircraft back to service.”
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, said the airline had already airlifted 675 pilgrims from the Ilorin International Airport.
He stated that 460 pilgrims departed from the airport about 12.30pm on Thursday while 215 pilgrims of the second batch were also airlifted.
He said the airline would also airlift pilgrims from Ondo and Ekiti states with three categories of aircraft, adding that Medview Airline would continue to maintain its adherence to safety standards and convenience of its passengers.
According to him, the airline will airlift between 11,000 and 12,000 pilgrims nationwide for this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca.