ESTERO, FL – Western Global Airlines – Statement of Jim Neff, CEO of Western Global Airlines:
“We are saddened that a person has lost his life by stowing aboard one of our cargo aircraft. As compared to other forms of transportation, stowaways on airplanes are rare, but almost always result in fatality. In most cases airport security prevents this from happening but it should never be attempted for any reason.
“We have been working closely with the Zimbabwean authorities as they fully investigate this situation. We appreciate their professionalism and the care they have shown our crew, our cargo and our aircraft. Along with our customer, Network Airline Management, we express our condolences and support the efforts of the Zimbabwean government. We also appreciate the dedication of our crew, the patience of the South African government while awaiting its shipment and the engagement of the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe.
“We are in continuous contact with our crew; when cleared to do so, they will complete the last leg of this charter.”
The Western Global Airlines aircraft in question is leased to Network Airline Management, a logistics provider, which was engaged to deliver a diplomatic shipment of South African currency from Munich, Germany to Durban, South Africa on behalf of the South African Reserve Bank. All necessary documentation for the flight and its cargo was in order and in compliance with international law. The aircraft departed Munich, Germany’s airport on February 13, 2016 with a crew of three pilots and a mechanic as well as two passengers traveling as couriers for the diplomatic shipment. The aircraft made a refueling stop at Zimbabwe’s Harare International Airport approximately nine hours later. During the refueling process, ground crew attending the aircraft noticed unusual streaking on the nose gear and upon further investigation, a deceased male was discovered in a compartment adjacent to the wheel well. At present, the identity or nationality of the deceased is not known.
It is not clear when or how the deceased accessed the aircraft and Western Global is working with authorities to back trace the aircraft’s route of travel. There has been no indication that his presence is related to the company or this specific cargo shipment. The company has confirmed that its normal service, safety and security inspections – which meet or exceed all security, maintenance and operational standards – were performed by its maintenance personnel prior to the flight and that cockpit crews conducted exterior walk-arounds prior to departure. The area where the body was found is an area not visible to these inspections and there is no indication the stowaway’s presence affected the operation of the aircraft.
Western Global Airlines is a provider of ACMI (“wet lease”) and charter services for the world’s premier airlines and logistics companies. It is an FAA-certificated Part 121 Boeing Tier One operator with a fleet of ten (10) MD-11 and two (2) B747-400 cargo aircraft and is headquartered in Estero, Florida. All Western Global aircraft are equipped with General Electric engines for maximum performance and reliability.
As an international carrier Western Global operates throughout the world. In the last year it has served 88 airports in 47 countries on 5 continents. Be it in Africa, Europe, Asia, South America or North America, Western Global Airlines is committed to excellence and customer satisfaction. Without exception, each of its customers has become a repeat customer. A primary focus of the company is to serve as an “air bridge” to and from Africa to help connect the continent it to the rest of the world. Western Global enables even remote locations in Africa, with little or no infrastructure or support, to obtain supplies, fight disease, and export their produce and flowers to Europe. The company has extensive experience operating throughout Africa, and has completed dozens of humanitarian missions into West Africa in support of the Ebola eradication effort.
Western Global is privately owned by James K. (Jim) Neff and Sunny Neff.