Scores of passengers have blocked the boarding gate of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja following the delay in their flights.
Angry passengers told PREMIUM TIMES Monday morning that they have been at the airport since Sunday night to catch flights to different destinations.
As of 8:36 a.m., passengers of Arik airline due for take-off at 7 p.m. on Sunday were still at the terminal ‘without explanation from the flight workers or officials.’
“They already had delayed it from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. yesterday. From 9.45 p.m. yesterday till now….,” a passenger told PREMIUM TIMES.
Pictures made available to this newspaper showed that many of the passengers had an uncomfortable night at the airport as chairs within the airport served as mattresses for scores of them.
Airline operators, in a letter on Friday, announced plans to suspend operations from Monday over high cost of jet fuel and other operational costs.
They stated this in a letter to the Minister of Aviation, Sadi Sirika, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
In reaction to the letter, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, pleaded with Nigerian airlines to suspend their planned shutdown of operations from Monday over the increase of cost of aviation fuel from N190 to N700 per litre.
Following the move, four airlines separately pulled out of the plan and said they will continue their operations. The airlines are Ibom Air, Arik, Air Peace, Aero Contractors and Dana.
On Sunday, AON said all airlines have suspended the plan and operations will no longer be halted.
The information not to continue with the boycott was conveyed in a letter signed by Serina Abdulmunaf, president, Airline Operators Association, and jointly signed by the chief executive officers of six domestic airline operators.
“…the AON has acceded to requests to withdraw the action for the time being while we allow for a fresh round of dialogue with the government in the hope of reaching an amicable solution,” the letter read in part.
“We have also reached this decision with the highest consideration for our esteemed customers who have been faced with uncertainty over the last few days and to enable them to have access to travel to their various destinations for the time being during the period of discussions with relevant authorities,” the airlines said.
No official apologies, delay resolved
Shortly after PREMIUM TIMES published the news, the airline mobilised aggrieved passengers for departure.
The flight which eventually took off past 9 a.m. instead of 7 p.m. on Sunday, combined a delayed flight from Yola and two Abuja flights to Lagos.
The passengers confirmed to this newspaper at 10:19 am that their flight touched down in Lagos.
“Some people even were delayed from Yola. They arrived in Abuja at 2 a.m. and were connecting with us. So the plane combined passengers from three different aircrafts.
“One from Yola and two flights to Lagos,” another female passenger confirmed, adding that there was no official apologies or discounts from Arik airline as stipulated in their policies.
“The form says they will give us a 25% discount but the manager did not tell us,” a male passenger said.
An attempt by this reporter to access the airport entrance after the flight departure was frustrated by security officials.
PREMIUM TIMES efforts to get the reactions of the spokesperson of Arik Air, Banji Ola, and an acting spokesperson of FAAN, Faithful Hope-ivbaze, were unsuccessful as none of them answered their calls.
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