Aircraft Captain Deported As 'Stowaway'

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A Nigerian airline is claiming one of its pilots was deported from the U.K. as a suspected “stowaway,” leaving one of its aircraft and the first officer stranded there. Max Air, which is based in Kano, Nigeria, sent one of its aircraft to Bournemouth for maintenance. According to a story in the Independent, Capt. Adam Dilli Ibrahim, 36, didn’t have a visa and was detained by immigration authorities. He left the country voluntarily after being told he would be deported. Under U.K. rules, pilots from other countries can spend up to seven days without a visa but the maintenance on the aircraft was expected to take longer than that.

Ibrahim left after his seven days were nearly up and the maintenance wasn’t finished until three days later. The airline says it can’t find another pilot-in-command to fly the airplane back and that it’s costing them $200,000 a day. “The captain has done nothing wrong. I feel terrible, I feel ashamed. It is so much bureaucracy,” said Frank Unokasan, who owns Feemsmak, the Bournemouth-based company that claims to be the maintenance company that looks after Max Air’s planes. “Whenever they see a green (Nigerian) passport they have doubted they are the captain and believe he is a stowaway, that’s their mindset.” Max Air operates at least three Boeing 737-300s, three 747-300s and an Embraer Legacy 600 business jet. It’s not clear which type was involved.