Med-View Airline passengers in London, on Friday, attacked the carrier’s members of staff at the Gatwick Airport after several Lagos-bound flights were cancelled, leaving them stranded for days.
According to persecondnews.com, up to 800 passengers had been stranded at the Gatwick Airport for five days with dozens of them sleeping on the floor.
Some of the passengers were said to have accused the airline of abandoning them.
Eyewitnesses said police were later called to the south terminal of the airport to maintain peace amid angry scenes as passengers took on airline officials.
The airline’s Dubai- and London-bound passengers had on Thursday disrupted activities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos following days of waiting to be airlifted to their destinations.
Some of the passengers said they had been stranded for several days due to flight delays and cancellation.
The aggrieved passengers were said to have gone to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s Consumer Protection Department desk to complain, alleging that the airline did not send any update through emails or text messages despite delaying some of them from travelling to London since December 24th.
In a statement signed by its Accountable Manager, Mr. Michael Ajigbotosho, on Thursday, the airline said delayed flight operations out of Gatwick Airport, London on December 22, caused the problem as it created a backlog of passengers.
He said the flight, VL 2101, London to Lagos on Friday, December 22, which had about 300 passengers on board, returned back to Gatwick after departure as a precautionary measure taken by the pilot in line with Aviation Standard and Recommended Practices.
He added, “This led to cancellation of the flight as the aircraft was declared AOG (Aircraft On Ground). The passengers were catered for, they were lodged in a hotel and those who decided to go back home were also taken care of.
“After the aircraft was declared AOG, we had to wait for a maintenance report. The aircraft had to remain on ground until a certified expert carries out the necessary checks and certify that the aircraft is airworthy.
“So, the holiday compounded the problem. In line with that confirmation, we decided to seek for a relief flight and tried as much as possible go get the approval from both the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and the CAA of United Kingdom in Gatwick. We attest to their full cooperation and we appreciate them.”
He said the airline announced to operate three flights feeling the concern of all its passengers and on Wednesday, December 27, positioned three aircraft after securing the approval of the CAA.
According to him, the three aeroplanes would have evacuated 700 passengers which would have normalised the situation.
“But the passengers neither understood nor knew the challenges ahead, which resorted to having a delayed operation and the crew rested and we ended up operating two flights out of three,” he said.
Ajigbotosho, while appealing for more understanding from passengers, had stated that normal flights would resume on Friday for the airline’s London, Dubai and Jeddah passengers.