More than 60 passengers traveling on Arik Air were stranded at the Murtala Muhammed International airport in Lagos in the middle of the night, a frustrated passenger confirmed, adding that the top Nigerian commercial airline which was meant to fly them from Abuja to Accra had dumped them in Lagos without a reason or apology.
One passenger Lester Amarh Kwantreng, a Ghanaian who boarded the Arik Air flight in Abuja had expected, like other passengers, to be flown to Accra, Ghana, the final destination for the flight.
“We were coming in from Abuja to Accra and the plane just got us to Lagos. I was thinking we had landed in Accra,” Lester said in a phone interview with Pilot Africa, frustration etched in every word.
The Arik Air flight, which was scheduled to leave Abuja at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, had already been delayed for hours before taking off and then, adding to passengers’ outrage, the airline failed to transport them to their final destination.
The passengers said they were not even informed by the pilot about the alternate landing plans. They were ushered off the plane, with one unidentified passenger reporting a scuffle between the Arik Air pilot and some frustrated passengers who demanded explanation.
“They didn’t say anything, offered no explanation, but they just dumped us here,” the Ghanaian passenger said. “It is a very uncouth behavior,” he said, frustrated to be stranded at the airport at 1:30 a.m. on a Wednesday morning.
Lester explained that the airline had promised to put them up in a hotel and continue the flight to Accra, Ghana later in the morning.
“They claim the flight is leaving at 6 a.m.,” Lester said, “but there is no bus ready to get us to any hotel.”
He believed the offer of a hotel room was a ruse to get them off the plane and into the airport.
Lester said Arik Air has a reputation for stranding passengers and has repeatedly gotten away with it because they have not been held accountable.
The frustrated passenger vowed to do just that. “I am taking them up in court when I return to Ghana,” Lester said.
It is second time in one week that Arik Air would leave passengers stranded at an airport. Just last week frustrated Nigerian passengers were stranded, without explanation, at a terminal at the JFK airport in New York.
A Senior Manager at Arik Air in Ghana, Mr. Kepsy, explained that flight could not head to Accra at the time because the terminal in Ghana was closed.
“There is construction going on there, so by 11 p.m. to midnight the airport closes,” he said. The Arik Air official said Ghana Airport Authorities would not have allowed the flight to land, so they had to stop in Lagos before continuing the flight later this morning.
When asked why the flight had not departed Abuja at 5 p.m. on Tuesday as scheduled, Kepsy said the plane was late leaving a previous location and so was late arriving in Abuja.