Arik Air US, SA Bound Passengers Stranded At Lagos Airport
Barely a day after the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) hammered Arik Air for contravening the provisions of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) and also for abandoning its passengers, the airline has again abandoned its passengers and are stranded at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
Again Abelnewsng.com learnt that since Monday, Arik Air’s flights to Heathrow, London, New York in the United States and Johannesburg in South Africa have not departed the shores of the country.
Despite the inability of the airline’s flights to depart for these destinations, the embattled airline’s counter staff at the international terminal today sold tickets to add more passengers going to London on W3 101, with an estimated time of departure (ETD) 12.45 and Johannesburg with ETD 13.30.
The news platform further learnt that the airline despite having aircraft on ground, has not been able to fly any of its international passengers to their destinations as a result of its inability to pay aviation fuel marketers that have adopted the ‘pay as you go’ system due to the huge indebtedness owed the marketers by domestic airlines in the country.
Abelnewsng.com, who was at the international terminal was at the terminal today learnt that the airline sold tickets to its passengers and has also issued boarding passes but there was no aircraft on ground to fly passengers to their various destinations.
As a result of the situation, Abelnewsng.com learnt that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has refused the airline’s passengers to access the boarding gates in spite of the issuance of boarding passes to the passengers by the airline’s counter staff.
As it is usual ,when the abelnewsng.com visited the ever busy terminal Arik Air’s counter staff have all disappeared while its office at international wing remained locked.
One of the staff, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, at the terminal linked the inability of the airline to source aviation fuel for the flight challenges the airline is having at the moment.
The staff however confirmed that Jet A1 is available at the airport, but major oil marketers refused to supply fuel to the airline due to its massive debts to the fuel marketers.
As at 1:20pm it was discovered that the airline had not airlifted its London bound passengers while its Johannesburg passengers were still on ground as at 2:15pm.
Some of the passengers were seen discussing the issue in twos and threes while others were seen sleeping on the bare floor of departure hall.
“Even, we the staff are no longer comfortable with the happenings in the airline. The management is indebted to everyone. What we hear is that all the revenues being made by the carrier go to banks straight because we are also indebted to banks. It is the banks that we now determine what to release to the airline for operations” The staff said.
Also speaking, a Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) at the international wing stated that the agency’s management at international prevented Arik Air’s passengers to access the boarding gate because of past sordid experience.
The source said that FAAN’s management sent a circular to the Airport Manager to ensure that Arik Air’s passengers were not allowed to gain access to the boarding gate unless there is an aircraft that will airlift them on ground.
The source further explained that the last protest by the passengers led to damage of FAAN’s asset at the boarding gate area, a situation, which did not go down well with the management.
“What we are doing now is to ensure that any passenger with Arik’s boarding pass is not allowed to gain access to the boarding area unless we are sure that they are really ready to go. As it is now, they still sell tickets to passengers despite the fact that they know they won’t ferry them out of the airport. Arik Air is a very big problem to us in FAAN. I think it is the high time the government intervened in this disgraceful act of the airline. We can’t continue like this. Our image is daily soiled by the action of this airline. The government needs to get involved” The source added.
Contacted the General Manager, Communications and Public Relation, Mr Adebanji Ola, stated the airline would issue a statement to that effect shortly but quickly added that the London passengers have departed.
However, as at the time of posting the story the airline was yet to issue the statement.
Abelnewsng.com recalled that NCAA yesterday sanctioned the airline for contravening the provisions of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs).
NCAA had accused the airline of continuously flouting of the NCARs over its maltreatment of passengers rights.
As a result, the airline was sanctioned by NCAA and ordered to pay the sum of N6 million to it within seven, beginning from December, 22, 2016 and to also pay each of the affected passengers the sum of $150 as compensation.