Angry Arik Air passengers yesterday, Thursday evening caused confusion at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja after they disembarked from an Arik Air flight that was meant to take them to the Margaret Ekpo Airport, Calabar from Abuja.
The disgruntled passengers practically held passengers on other planes at the airport hostages as they blocked the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, preventing planes from taking-off or landing.
According to reports, the angry passengers’ flight that had the Cross River State Governor, Liyel
Imoke, on board, was denied landing at the Calabar airport at about 5.30pm by the station manager due to safety concerns.
It was learnt that despite pleas by the aides to the governor to allow the landing of the aircraft, the station manager refused, citing the fact that the runway lightening was poor thus, the pilot was left with no other choice than to return the passengers to the Abuja airport.
A passenger in one of the stranded airplanes at the Abuja airport said he and other travellers had to disembark and sat on the tarmac for more than one hour after the pilot announced that the plane could not take off because the runway had been blocked by the angry Arik Air passengers.
The General Manager, Corporate Communications, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mr. Yakubu Dati, who confirmed that Arik passengers blocked the runway, blamed the airline for the incident.
He added that the passengers had insisted that Arik must compensate them for breach of contract, especially since the flight was delayed.
The spokesperson of Arik Air, Mr. Adebanji Ola, however said that it was not the fault of the airline that the Calabar airport was closed by the time the flight from Abuja got there.
- “The flight was delayed because there was Very Important Personality movement and there was also some weather issues, it is not the fault of the airline that the plane could not land there. We are amazed that despite the security at the Abuja airport, passengers were still able to hijack the aircraft and hold other planes to ransom, that should not be the case.”