Official slams BBC correspondent’s remark on security details at Ethiopian Airlines

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Addis Ababa, 19 February 2014 (WIC) – Ethiopian’s Ambassador to the UK slammed a BBC correspondent’s remark on security details at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport as “damaging and factually incorrect.”

In the wake of the Rome bound Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET-702 which the co-pilot hijacked and landed it in Geneva, Frank Gardner, a BBC security correspondent talked about ‘security lapses’ at the Ethiopian Airlines check-point when he spoke of his experience in Addis Ababa.

In a complaint lodged to the director general of the BBC News Broadcasting House, Ambassador Berhanu Kebede said the correspondent has gone to great lengths to have the world believe that the security details at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport leave much to be desired.

“We need not remind anyone that, Mr. Gardner’s groundless remark notwithstanding, Bole Airport is highly reputed for its exceptional security provisions amongst international flight-safety regulatory bodies,” the statement read.

The ambassador added that the airport is periodically audited and at no time has it been found in breach of the international standards that world-leading airport service providers are required to meet.

At one point the BBC correspondent, who is restricted to a wheelchair due to a disability, relates how he was recalled for additional inspection after crossing a check-point at Bole Airport.

“If anything, [This] reinforces the periodically issued audit reports which certify the high security standards maintained by Ethiopian authorities charged with the responsibility of air-passenger safety,” Ambassador Berhanu said.

During a press conference held on Monday, Redwan Hussien, head of Government Communications Affairs Office, also labeled the remark made by the BBC correspondent “contradictory” where he also named the co-pilot.

Hailemedhin Aberra, a 31 years old Ethiopian who worked with the national flag carrier for five years, was identified as the co-pilot behind the hijacking.
“The case of flight ET-702 can, in no way, be cited as a consequence of breach of security at Addis Ababa Airport as Mr. Gardner suggests,” Berhanu said adding that it is ‘an isolated case of failure of responsibility on the part of a single crew member.’

Hailemedhin locked himself in the cockpit and took control of the plane when the captain, an Italian, went to the restroom. He then flew to Switzerland where he reportedly requested for asylum.

Established in 1945, Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopian) has become one of the Africa’s leading airlines. With 80 international destinations, Ethiopian is the fastest growing and the most profitable African airline.

Most recently it was voted African Airliner of the Year 2013 and the SKYTRAX award for "Best Airline Staff Service in Africa" and the Passengers Choice Award for "Best Airline in Africa".