- Arik Air Passengers Stranded at Abuja Airport
Hundreds of Arik Air passengers were left stranded at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Wednesday.
It was learnt that the airline had operational hitches, which resulted in flight delays on different routes out of Abuja that lasted for several hours, as about four of its aircraft were on ground at the NAIA tarmac.
It was further gathered that angry passengers on the Abuja-Owerri and Abuja-Benin routes were fed with biscuits and soft drinks by the carrier in a bid to calm tempers.
“This is past 4pm and people have been here since morning, waiting to board, but no way. The annoying thing is that some of the airline’s members of staff find it hard to explain why our flights are being delayed this much. This is horrible,” said an intending traveller on one of the delayed Arik flights, who simply identified himself as Austin.
Another passenger stated that two persons were arrested after they had misunderstandings with officials of Arik, but the airline was quick to refute this claim, arguing that no one was arrested at its terminal in Abuja on Wednesday.
A source at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria told our correspondent that hundreds of passengers of Arik Air were stranded at the airport as their flights were delayed for several hours.
He stated that the airline’s first flight from Lagos landed at the Abuja airport around 4pm, whereas several flights of other domestic carriers were shuttling in and out of the NAIA without hitches.
The official stated that Arik Air was denied aviation fuel, otherwise known as JetA1, by marketers because the airline was allegedly not paying for the commodity.
“This is some minutes after 4pm and the first Arik Air flight from Lagos just landed here some minutes ago,” the FAAN official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
When asked what led to such operational lapses, the official replied, “About four of their aircraft are on ground and this is because marketers are not giving them fuel. The fuel marketers complain that the airline doesn’t pay for fuel. But the airline has been providing soft drinks and biscuits for its passengers since morning as they wait for their flights.
“Some of the passengers include those from Abuja to Owerri and from here to Benin. There has not been any flight for them and one of Arik’s flights to Lagos is boarding right now. This is after it has kept the passengers on ground at the airport since morning.”
When contacted, Arik Air’s spokesperson, Mr. Banji Ola, said there was no protest at the airline’s counter at the Abuja airport on Wednesday, adding that no one was arrested either.
He said, “It is not true. I have just called Abuja and was told that there was no protest at our counter; no flight was cancelled and nobody was arrested. I’m not aware of any cancellation and it is not true that anyone was arrested and there was no protest.”
He, however, did not refute complaints of flight delays by the airline at the Abuja airport on Wednesday.