Many of the passengers billed to travel on Wednesday joined those of the previous day, creating chaotic situations at the check-in counters of the airline at both the General Aviation Terminal of the local airport and at the international terminal.
The situation persisted until noon when the airline was able to clear the backlog of passengers.
One of our correspondents, who was at the departure hall of the airport at around 8.40am, observed that passengers in their hundreds besieged the check-in counters of the airline trying to get boarding passes for the carrier’s Lagos-London bound flight.
Arik Air officials at the scene were overwhelmed by the surge in crowd, with some of the desperate passengers resorting to verbally abusing the officials, while some vowed never to patronise the airline again.
A passenger, who gave his name simply as Tunde, said, “I am really upset about the situation. I am a regular flyer of Arik to London and I can say without fear of contradiction that the airline is notorious for flight delays and cancellation, as well as poor treatment of its customers.
“I was supposed to have flown to London on Tuesday and have a meeting with some of my clients this morning, but through the airline’s carelessness, I have lost that opportunity.”
Another passenger, who refused to give his name, said he was at the check-in counter to demand a refund of his airfare, having missed the opportunity to be in London at the scheduled time.
“I had to look for money to buy another ticket of Med-View Airline to take me to the United Kingdom in two weeks’ time. However, that is coming at a great cost, because the new ticket is expensive because of the Christmas/New Year rush and because Med-View will land at Gatwick airport, which is farther from where I am going instead of Arik taking me to Heathrow,” the frustrated passenger said.
While some officials of the airline were struggling to appease the angry passengers, others resorted to hauling insults back at the intending travellers.
The Public Relations and Communications Manager, Arik Air, Adebanji Ola, said the airline had put in place extra flights to various destinations within the country that would operate between Wednesday and Saturday, and had also upgraded the aircraft on certain routes to bigger capacities to cope with the backlog of passengers whose flights were affected by the strike action.
He said passengers whose flights were affected by the disruption on Tuesday were given priority on Wednesday.
“Additional capacities have been allocated throughout this week from both Lagos and Abuja to destinations such as Enugu, Asaba, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Benin, Warri, Uyo and Yola to also enable many of our customers to get to their destinations for the Yuletide season,” he said.
Meanwhile, Med-View Airline has announced that it has expanded its operations into the West African sub region with the commencement of flight services to Monrovia, Liberia and Freetown, Sierra Leone via Accra, Ghana.
The airline said the expansion was in fulfilment of its promise to use its Accra operations as a stepping stone to other countries in the West Coast.
According to a statement by the airline, the inaugural flight to the two countries took off from Lagos via the Kotoka International Airport, Ghana to the Roberts International Airport, Liberia and Freetown International Airport, Sierra Leone.
“The outbound flight headed straight to Kotoka in Ghana before going back to Nigeria. It was with delight and ecstasy that the two countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone, welcomed the airline, describing the operation as a giant step towards strengthening regional integration among ECOWAS countries,” the statement read in part.
The representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, Ambassador Tunde Ajisomo, was quoted to have described the new operation as a courageous move by Med-View to fill the vacuum created by the absence of African airlines plying the West African routes.
He said the development aligned with the vision of the Economic Community of West African States to deepen trade and economic relations between African countries and their peoples.