Stranded Arik Airline passengers, originally scheduled to travel to Ibadan, the Oyo State Capital at 3.25 p.m. on Friday, were eventually flown to their destination 7 a.m. Saturday.
Saka Waheed, one of the stranded passengers made this known via a twitter post at about 9:08 a.m. Saturday.
“Safe landing at Ibadan Airport,” Mr. Waheed tweeted.
The passengers had on Saturday night shut down operations at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, blocking the boarding gate of the airport and disallowing Arik and other airlines from boarding passengers to other destinations.
After PREMIUM TIMES reported the incident Friday night, it was learnt that some top airport officials, including Airport Controller, V. C. Onyi, Airport Manager, M.M. Mukthar, rushed to the blocked boarding gate few minutes to 11 p.m on Friday to appeal to the aggrieved passengers for calm.
After extensive argument, it was also learnt, the officials agreed to ensure the passengers get 25 per cent refund and accommodation overnight.
However as at the time of filing this report, the refund was yet to be paid.
The Arik Airline spokesperson, Banji Ola, refused to speak to PREMIUM TIMES as regards his airline’s handling of the flight, the ordeal of the passengers and the compensation promised the passengers, saying there was no need commenting since the initial story on the matter had already been published.
Also, he would not say if indeed there was an agreement to pay the passengers 25 per cent refund.
The Coordinating Spokesperson of Aviation agencies, Yakubu Datti, said he had not received report on the incident.
He however said, “when we have a case like this, passengers are to lodge complaint at the Customers Protection Desk monitored by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.
“Then, there will be investigations. And NCAA, as a regulatory agency, will sanction such airline if found guilty of the passengers’ complaint.”
However, Mr. Datti said the flight could have been cancelled due to weather conditions.
The passengers say their grievances was because the flight was cancelled without notice and Arik Air officials were not available to explain reasons for aborting their journey.
Mr. Waheed, a civil society activist, had told PREMIUM TIMES at about 9:30 P.M Saturday that the aborted flight was originally schedule for 3.25pm.
“Later, they came to tell us it had been changed to 4p.m. By 4 o’clock, they said flight would be 7pm. When it was 7, we were directed to enter a bus to take us to the tarmac so that we could board the plane and leave for Ibadan.
“Although we entered the bus, yet the driver later told us to get down. In short, that was the point we were told the flight had been cancelled, after we had spent over four hours at the airport,” Mr. Waheed said.
He said they could not also assess their luggage, which had already been checked in.
He complained that neither airport officials nor Arik Air staff offered them any explanation on why the flight was cancelled and how to get their luggage.
“Because of that treatment, we are not allowing anybody to travel out of Abuja until either airport officials or Arik officials come to address us,” Mr. Waheed said.
Also complaining, another passenger, Tope Oladele, said, “Well, as you can see; these people are very barbaric. They are treating us like animals. Nobody has come to explain what happened. They have left us stranded.”
Both Messrs Waheed and Oladele said there was no official at the Arik stand to attend to passengers’ complaints.
Passengers said Arik is notorious for arbitrary flight postponement and cancellation and that they are disappointed that aviation authorities have so far failed to call the airline to order.