By Chinedu Eze: Thisdayonline.com
About 185 passengers scheduled to travel on Ethiopian Airline flight ET900 to Addis Ababa from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport , Lagos with connecting flights to Dubai and New Delhi were abandoned at the weekend.
There was no indication, as at yesterday evening, that the passengers would be departing Lagos to the Ethiopian capital. One of the passengers, Linda, who spoke to THISDAY, said that the passengers boarded the flight billed to depart by 1.45 pm Nigerian time on Saturday, but when the aircraft took off it was discovered that the cooling system was faulty which prompted the pilot to abort the flight and return to base.
“When we took off, we discovered that there was no air in the aircraft (it was not pressurized). The pilot announced to us that he was returning to the airport and assured that they would repair the aircraft and we would depart but when he landed we spent another two hours in the aircraft before we disembarked, ” she said.
According to her, Saturday ended with the aircraft still on the ground without any hope that the passengers would be departing, adding that later that evening “the Ethiopian Airlines officials took the passengers to a cheap hotel called Mel Hotels where we were quartered three and four each in one room.”
THISDAY gathered that by 8.00 am on Sunday morning, the passengers who were now dissipated and frustrated with the attitude of the airline, were returned to the airport for another long wait and by 6.00 pm the airline was yet to notify the passengers when they would be departing to Addis Ababa.
“Since that Saturday, they have been repairing the aircraft and as at this moment (5.00 pm ) they are yet to complete maintenance work. We are so disappointed and frustrated with the airline whose attitude is unfriendly and even hostile because we demanded that we won’t travel in that aircraft but they insisted they won’t get us another aircraft, ” Linda disclosed further.
Lamenting further, Linda stated: “They provided us biscuits and Coke shortly after our arrival from the hotel and that was what we have taken since morning. Everybody is sad. Many of us are wearing the same clothes since yesterday. I am going to New Delhi in India and there are those who are going to Dubai , so this delay has shattered our travel schedule. This is a very bad experience for us.”
A drama however ensued when THISDAY called at the Ethiopian Airline’s office at the airport for further enquiries . An official of the airline who was at the door rushed in and quickly locked the door on sighting this reporter and not even several knocks would make them open the door.Customers who were also being attended to were also locked in and two expatriates customers were only allowed to go out after several minutes while a tall, huge looking man who looked like bouncer stood at the door and shut it thereafter.Spokesman of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) that operates the Consumer Protection Unit (CPU) told THISDAY that he would notify concerned authorities about the incident.