Angry passengers block Abuja airport over flight delays

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Scores of passengers have blocked the boarding gate of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja following the delay in their flights.

Angry passengers told PREMIUM TIMES Monday morning that they have been at the airport since Sunday night to catch flights to different destinations.

As of 8:36 a.m., passengers of Arik airline due for take off at 7 p.m. on Sunday were still at the terminal ‘without explanation from the flight workers or officials.’

“They already had delayed it from 7 to 9 pm yesterday. From 9:45 yesterday till now….,” a passenger told PREMIUM TIMES.

Pictures made available to this newspaper showed that many of the passengers had an uncomfortable night at the airport as chairs within the airport served as mattresses for scores of them.

Passengers blocking the boarding gate of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja
Passengers blocking the boarding gate of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja
Passengers blocking the boarding gate of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja
Passengers blocking the boarding gate of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja

Airline operators, in a letter on Friday, announced plans to suspend operations from Monday over high cost of jet fuel and other operational costs.

The airlines, however, reversed their decisions Sunday evening. Before the reversal, some airlines like Ibom Air and Dana had said they would not be joining their colleagues to suspend operations.

Scene: Passengers blocking the boarding gate of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja
Chairs within the airport served as mattresses for scores of passengers.
Chairs within the airport served as mattresses for scores of passengers.
Chairs within the airport served as mattresses for scores of passengers.
Scene: Chairs within the airport served as mattresses for scores of passengers.
Scene: Chairs within the airport served as mattresses for scores of passengers.

The information not to continue with the boycott was conveyed in a letter signed by Serina Abdulmunaf, president, Airline Operators Association, and jointly signed by the chief executive officers of six domestic airline operators.

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“…the AON has acceded to requests to withdraw the action for the time being while we allow for a fresh round of dialogue with the government in the hope of reaching an amicable solution,” the letter read in part.

Airline operators had on Friday in a letter addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Sadi Sirika, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority said they will halt operations from Monday, amidst an astronomical increase in aviation fuel.

In reaction to the letter, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, pleaded with Nigerian airlines to suspend their planned shutdown of operations from Monday over the increase of cost of aviation fuel from N190 to N700 per litre.

Following the move, four airlines separately pulled out of the plan and said they will continue their operations. The airlines are Ibom Air, Arik, Air Peace, Aero Contractors and Dana.

On Sunday, AON said all airlines have suspensed the plan and operations will no longer be halted.

“We have also reached this decision with the highest consideration for our esteemed customers who have been faced with uncertainty over the last few days and to enable them to have access to travel to their various destinations for the time being during the period of discussions with relevant authorities,” the airlines said.

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