Arik Flight W3 533 to Uyo 21st June 2013: An ordeal retold

[Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah]

Earlier this evening, I boarded Arik Flight W3 533 to Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The flight was scheduled to depart Nnamdi Azikiwe Int’l at 18.25 hrs. We left about 7pm. By 21.35 hrs, we were back in Abuja without landing in Uyo. Exciting ride it’s been.

On approach into Uyo airport with landing gear fully engaged and less than 500 metres from the tarmac, the airport blacked out. As he re-engaged the engines to go up, the pilot informed us that the Tower has rod him there was a power outage at the airport.

So they needed a little time to switch to alternative source. So we were told. Meanwhile, the aircraft was in a holding pattern over Uyo. So we flew around & waited. After about 15 minutes, the pilot explained that the man responsible for turning on the back up power unit was about “10-15 mins from the airport & had been reached. So he was on his way back to switch it on.” So we kept holding.

Another 15 or so minutes later, we were told the man has arrived, that power would come on shortly and that we should expect to be down on the ground in Uyo in about 10 minutes. So we kept holding.

Then about another 15 minutes later, instead of losing altitude, we began picking it up rapidly. Simultaneously, Uyo began receding rapidly from beneath us. Shortly thereafter, the Pilot told us the keys to the power source for the alternative power unit were nowhere to be found and the Tower had told him they could not power up for him to land. So we were to be returned to Abuja.

Gratefully, the evening was devoid of Uyo’s potentially destructive thunder & rainstorm.

So it is that we are back in Abuja, safely, but the Arik Ground Manager has disappeared and his or her staff claim they don’t know what to do.

30 minutes later and very responsible looking men in their suits and expensive silk ties have been reduced on the tarmac to vigilantes using every available part of the anatomy to preclude the pilot from closing the doors and heading off on another trip. The Arik Manager remains disappeared and this place is going to degenerate.

I’m making my way out as I write. Arik will hear. Just in case you’re considering going on this flght, remember, there is no parking space upstairs.

Good night.


Chidi Anselm Odinkalu

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