Some passengers of a British Airways flight from London to Lagos have accused the airline of abandoning them in Abuja.
Speaking with newsmen in Abjuja on Thursday, the passengers said the airline made no arrangement for them after landing on Wednesday, as against their destination, Lagos.
Although the passengers acknowledged that the weather condition is a valid reason for redirecting landing operations to Abuja, they said some of them became stranded as they had to cater for themselves.
Chinelo Etiaba, a passenger from London, was quoted as saying that the airline did not provide them with adequate information.
“We arrived on BA yesterday evening from London to Abuja, they could not land in Lagos which was the reason why they brought us here and we got here about 7am,” she said.
“It took them about four hours to get us to Sheraton. We got to Sheraton, there were no rooms because they did not make adequate provision.
“Right now, they asked us to get to the airport with no means of transportation. We know that it is not BA’s fault that the weather was unmanageable but the least they could have done was to keep us updated.
“We are over 300 passengers and they provided only two buses. How are we going to get 321 people to the airport which is about 45 minutes from here to board a flight that is supposed to leave at 2:45pm?”
Young Ewina, another passenger, faulted the airline, saying he is unable to take his medication as a result of the development.
“BA just abandoned us here. They did not even provide transportation for some of us from the airport. They said we should come to Sheraton Hotel, we all came here but they made arrangement for less than 200 people,” he said.
“Out of the 321 passengers, we all slept outside and we have elderly people here. We are on medication and they said paramedics will be here, but there is nothing like that.”
Theresa Nwabueze, another passenger, said the airline ought to have a contingency plan for its passengers.
“What I am saying is that BA is taking us for granted. We were not meant to be here in Abuja. We booked our flight from London to Lagos,” she said.
“We understand that the weather made us come here but when we came here, they just left us to fend for ourselves which is not acceptable and now, they have sent us text to be at the airport now and there is no bus to take us there.
“People are paying for taxi to get to the airport. I haven’t got money, I did not plan for this and if BA has decided to leave us here, they should make a contingency plan for us.
“If they have the capacity to carry a flight of 321 people, they should have a plan for that in case if anything happens. We are not accepting this, we have been treated like slaves in our own country.”
Reacting to the passengers’ complaints, Babatunde Irukera, the director-general of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), said his agency had contacted the airline over the situation, adding that summons will be issued to them.
“Our understanding is that the flight to Lagos will depart momentarily. BA has made arrangement to transport everyone from here to the airport. However, with respect to what has happened in the intervening hours, we are already issuing summons to British airline,” he said.
“I understand that there has been technical difficulties, weather related problems with landing flights in Lagos. On the account of that, British airways diverted their flight to Abuja which is understandable.
“What seem to have been the problems have been managing the process with respect to sensitivity and responsiveness to passengers.”
No official of the airline was available to respond to questions from journalists at the time of this report.
Meanwhile, the hazy atmosphere has affected flight services nationwide as difficulties in takeoff and landing operations compelled airlines to either cancel or delay domestic flights.
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