Thursday, 26 November 2015

Arik Air Plane Enroute South Africa Nearly Crash -Passenger Shares Ordeal

'I'm very sad as I recount this story, why is it that no media house or even bloggers carried the news about the near crash of an Arik Air plane heading to Johannesburg from Lagos (which I thank God, we all on board escaped unhurt) and the ill treatment that Arik officials gave we passengers especially the unprofessional attitude and treatment by the Duty Manager.

Here is my story, I booked an Arik air flight heading to Johannesburg, South Africa from Lagos with flight number W3103. The flight was slated for 1.30 pm on the 24th of November 2015. I got to the airport around 11 am on this fateful day so I can check in and all that, now a flight that was slated for 1.30 pm after the normal Arik unexplained delay finally took off around 2.30 pm. On take-off, two birds mysteriously flew into the right engine causing the engine to shut down and two tyres getting busted, which forced the pilot to crash land. I thank God that no one on board was hurt but we all sure suffered emotional trauma. Trust me. Especially when the pilot told us how lucky we all were because he had excess fuel on the plane that would have easily triggered an explosion.

Now when we all alighted from the plane, some passengers who wanted to leave so as to catch the next available flight to South Africa with another airline were not allowed to leave by Arik Officials neither did Arik Air agree to refund their money. Arik air seized all our bags, and prevented anyone from leaving, A situation which caused great chaos at the airport. Arik Air's reason was that they are making plans to provide another plane that will convey the passengers to South Africa, so according to them we just have to wait for the plane as there was nothing they could do. people who asked for a refund were told that refund "can not be made" and even if they are going to refunded, it would take 10 working days for the process of refund to be done. Now tell me, what if I was a foreigner on business and I had no one in Nigeria or no other money on me, I would be practically stuck with Arik's inconsiderate decision.

Now fast forward to around 6 pm, We the passengers were still at the airport stranded with no solution from Arik or them even addressing us (remember that some people have been in the airport since morning) concerning the ill-fated incident or even serve us anything to drink or eat, not even water. Some passengers met the Duty Manger and asked for refreshments but were told that there was no refreshment and that everything was packed in the abandoned plane, this caused the passengers to get angry and you know what they say "A hungry man is an angry man". The Duty Manger had to run inside his office and locked himself up leaving the hungry and angry passengers outside shouting. I remember clearly the words of a South African as he begged the Duty Manger for what to eat, He said:
"Even a cup of water can't you provide for us? Do you want someone to collapse before you do something?"

By this time, Passengers broke airport protocol and went into restricted areas of the airport, a situation which caused FAAN and Immigration personnel to come out because of all the noise coming from the passengers. It was FAAN and Immigration intervention that made Arik Air officials to agree to release passengers bags and this was around 7.30 pm and some South Africans and Nigerians who had no where to go were already stranded at the airport with no option but to wait for Arik to provide another plane or take them to a hotel to sleep for the night. I was lucky to retrieve my bag and headed back home. I later got to know that the Passengers who had nowhere to go were taken to a hotel to sleep for the night and that they left for South Africa the next day November 25 after Arik provided another flight.

And I ask, why is it that Arik Air has not publicly addressed the issue or issue out an apology to those affected? Why is it that our aviation industry is silent about it? Why is it that Arik air is given the upper hand to maltreat its customers thereby portraying a bad image of our aviation system to the outside world? Why always Arik Air?

Right now I'm on my way to Ghana for an appointment, Arik air made me loose a contract in South Africa. I have forwarded Arik a mail as regards my refund, I will keep you updated as to when they pay or if they do not pay.

I really hope Arik Air will really look into this issue, if they have to do some reforms or change the orientation given to their staff, they really have to. And more especially am waiting for Arik Air to issue out an apology to the public or will they deny it too? A lot of things really needs to be looked into in our Aviation. I know we just got new ministers so I will be a hypocrite by calling for his head at this early stage, but our minister of Transport and Aviation for state really needs to check our airlines.

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