SECURITY MONITOR’s North Central Bureau Chief, Tope Sunday who was at the frustrating passengers protest files in this report.
No fewer than 30 passengers on Friday night staged a mild protest at the Ilorin International Airport, Ilorin, Kwara State, over cancellation of flight to Abuja by the Arik Airline.
The flight was officially scheduled for 02:30pm from Ilorin en route Abuja but some of the passengers, who spoke with our Correspondent at 6:59pm at the Ilorin International Airport said, they have been in the airport since 12:00pm
SECURITY MONITOR recalls that the airline last week cancelled its operations nationwide as it was grounded by Air Traffic Unions comprising National Union of Air Traffic Employers (NUATE) and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN) over non-payment of about N12.4billion to Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Efforts by the aggrieved passengers to have the refund of their Air Ticket fare were futile as the Airline staff said their money had been deposited with First Bank PLC.
One of the affected passengers, Mr. Julius Nnosu, said the airline operator was duty bound to inform them earlier of its decision to cancel the flight.
He said: ” This is an act of irresponsibility by Arik
Air. It is duty bound to tell us that it will cancel the flight. Our tickets were collected and we were properly checked in, expecting the flight since 2:30pm just for its crew to inform us around 6:55pm that the flight had been cancelled.
“We said ok, give us our money only to be told that First Bank PLC had come to pack it, arguing that our tickets are valid for a year.
“Is this an excuse? There are ways and manners they will calm passengers not the way they had treated us. Anyway, I will just take it as an act of God.
“The only way to make our position known is through this mild demonstration and mild protest to send the right signal to the airline management and government.”
Another Passenger, Mr. Edward Ogonna, described the flight cancellation as frustrating, adding,” the cancellation of the flight is very frustrating, first and foremost, the flight was scheduled for 2:30pm and then rescheduled for 4:00pm, 6:30pm and then 7:00pm now it has been cancelled.
” I have been waiting since 1:30pm and spent half a day now. I don’t live in Ilorin I live in Port Harcourt. Now, I have to go back to the hotel to spend another money and plan for a new trip again.
” The regulators including Servicom are not doing their work because the airline is suppose to take us to hotel, pay for our accommodation and feeding and then bring us back for tomorrow’s flight”.
However,several attempts to reach Arik’s Spokesman, Mr. Ola Adebanjo, was unsuccessful as his phone number was switched off at the time of filling this report.