Arik Air passengers prevents Accra-bounded flight from taking off, (Monday, October 14, 2013) pg 5

 Back from Lagos, Nigeria       

THERE was commotion at the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos , Nigeria last Saturday, when passengers of a New York-bound Arik flight that was grounded, because it had developed a fault, refused to allow passengers of the airlines’s Accra flight to board.

The angry passengers who claimed the airline had not communicated to them blocked the entrance of the tunnel leading to the plane thus delaying the flight schedule take off for Accra at 7.15 am for more than 35 minutes.

What started as a shouting fit by one female passenger later snowballed into angry chants.The group of five passengers from Liberia had waited till the airline staff  finished checking the boarding passes and security clearance of the Accra flight before striking.

Even before the airline staff gave the green light for the first passenger to board the airline, four  men joined the woman screaming on top of their voices and blocked the entrance of the tunnel.

“We won’t move an inch, if you don’t give us another flight right now to send us to New York this one will not move. Nobody will enter the plane,” one of the angry passengers fumed.

Attempt by officials of the airline to keep things calm worsened the situation thereby, increasing the tempo of the cry for justice by the stranded passengers who claimed they spent the night at the airport with no information or whatsoever from the airline.

Confronted by passengers of the Accra flight who stood anxiously at the entrance of the tunnel, an official of the airline whose name tag identified her as Adenekan said the New York flight could not take off because the plane developed a fault.

Nigeria has a rather patchy aviation safety record. Just last week, 15 people died from a plane crash involving Dana Air, the same airline which  crashed and killed 153 people in June 2012.
A passenger, Mr John Tagoe, expressed shock at the turn of events.

“This is highly irresponsible. I’m shocked that the airport security allowed these people to hold us hostage. It is unbelievable,” he said.

For Mr Albert Ziem, the situation was clearly a security breach that needed to be taken care of.
“This is a security lapse. The airport is a security zone, how these people had access to this area is unacceptable,” he said.

In June last year,  Nigeria’s Daily Independent reported that  there was commotion  when an Arik Air Flight W3 107 scheduled to depart Murtala Mohammed International Airport for John F. Keneddy International Airport, New York was still on ground more than three hours after passengers had boarded.


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