Angry passengers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 (MMA2) on Monday almost lynched staff of Air Nigeria over what they described as unfair treatment, incessant and unwarranted flight delays. Most passengers of the airline travelling to Abuja from Lagos were delayed for several hours on Sunday, and when they eventually took-off, the airline was not allowed to land at the Abuja airport.
It was gathered that the Air Nigeria Boeing 737 flight VK55 conveying 124 passengers to Abuja from Lagos was denied landing in Abuja and had return to Lagos.
The flight schedule indicated that the airline was initially scheduled to depart Lagos on March 4th at 6 p.m and that the estimated time of arrival in Abuja was 7:20 pm.
When contacted, the spokesman of Air Nigeria, Mr. Sam Ogbogoro said he had no details. But the airline airlifted the passengers, who were stranded on Sunday, with its first flight on Monday.
Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) in statement by its General Manager, Supo Atobatele, said it authorised the closure and that all airlines were aware of the development.
“The attention of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has been drawn to the aborted Air Nigeria flight to Abuja on Sunday and the agency would like to make some clarifications on this issue following media enquiries. NAMA hereby absolves itself of any blame in the incident, which forced the flight back to Lagos on Sunday night. The agency, before now, on February 7, 2012, issued a Notice to Air Men (NOTAM) to all airlines informing them that the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja would be closed to traffic from11p.m till 5a.m”, he said.
The closure, according to the NOTAM, was to allow for the apron expansion work and upgrade of the approach lighting system on runway 04/22 from Cat 1 to Cat 11 in accordance with the ICAO runway lighting system.
“Before the NOTAM was issued, the contractor, Julius Berger, NAMA, and
other stake holders at the airport, including the airlines held a meeting and agreed on the closure,” he added.
But a witness, who spoke to Daily Trust, alleged that the pilot told the passengers that they got clearance to fly.
“On return to the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, at 20 minutes past midnight, the co-pilot explained that before they left for Abuja, they contacted the authorities in Abuja airport alerting them they would be arriving slightly after 11 pm, and the airport said it was okay. When we started descending, we radioed Abuja that we were approaching, and would land seven minutes after 11 pm, but the control tower said they had closed,” the co-pilot was quoted to have told passengers.