Airlines using IIA passenger bridges, but with `safety concerns`
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By Mohammad Asghar | 10/30/2018 12:00:00 AM
RAWALPINDI: An international airline that operates from Dubai to Islamabad has not used a passenger boarding bridge since one collapsed at the Islamabad International Airport earlier this month.

Other airlines have been using three of the boarding bridges, but with `safety concerns`.

Sources said the airline operators committee has expressed concerns about the safety of the bridges and sought information of the bridge collapse, as well as asking the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to carry out a safety audit of all the bridges.

`Only one airline operating for Islamabad has not been using the passenger boarding bridge since one collapsed.

`The other international airlines have used the bridges, but with safety concerns as they have no choice but to use them,` a senior official from an international airline told Dawn.

Requesting anonymity, the of ficial said they have asked the CAA for a safety audit of the passenger bridgesand for the facts behind the collapse of the bridge, but have not received a response from the concerned authorities.

IIA, which was made operational six months ago, has 15 passenger boarding bridges that cost between Rs320 and Rs380 million each. Three of these bridges are currently operational, and the remainder are being inspected by a team of engineers.

A spokesperson for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) told Dawn that the airline had not been using the passenger bridges at IIA.

Passengers instead embark or disembark from planes using stairs.

`Three boarding bridges have been declared fit, while the inspection of the remaining 12 bridges is under progress by a three-member CAA team,` a civil aviation official said, adding that the team had not been given a deadline.

The inspection team comprises IIA manager airside Maqsood Ali Khan, Mohsin Shamim and CAA engineer Kashif Ali.

Sources said that the re-inspection of the 12 bridges was suggested in the report of an inquiry board set up by CAA Director General Hassan Baig to investigate the collapse and determine who was responsible.

The board is headed by CAA Deputy Director General Syed Amir Mehboob, assisted by IIA expansion project director Sadiqur Rehman, airport manager at Bacha KhanInternational Omaidur Rehman Abbasi and Bacha Khan International Airport Senior Director Kamal Khan.

It was tasked with submitting a report by Oct 22, which was submitted after a delay on Oct 26.

Passenger boarding bridge no. 5, an enclosed elevated passageway that extends from the airport terminal gate to an aircraft, collapsed moments after it was disconnected from a Gulf Air flight that had begun taxiing on Oct 9.

The wreckage of the collapsed bridge, which was lying on the apron, or tarmac, had been covered with plastic sheets.

The additional director of the CAA`s engineering section, who is responsible for providing engineering views, as well as the inspection of civil works and engineering services for airside and maintenance, said in a preliminary `defect report` that the gap between the bolts and pin connecting the bridge parts was evident from photographs and evidence collected from the scene.

Passengers at the airport were surprised to see that stairs were being used to board and disembark passengers rather than the new bridges.

`I was expecting a passenger bridge, but I was surprised to see a bus and then a staircase connected to my aircraft at the new airport because it was difficult for me to use the stairs with two children,` said a woman who was travelling to Dubai on Saturday.