Frustrated passengers of Arik Airlines revolted in Benin when they staged a protest over the cancellation of their scheduled to Lagos after several delays.
The flight which was initially scheduled to depart Benin City, Edo State by 5pm on Friday, 22nd of October 2010 for Lagos was initially delayed for thirty minutes. A second announcement came stating that the plane “would soon arrive” and the flight will be leaving by 6pm.
The passengers, who are mostly from outside of Benin grew frustrated when 6pm came and the plane was not on sight. By 6:15pm an announcement was made that the flight would be departing by 7pm.
When the flight’s cancellation was eventually announced by 7pm the weary passengers who are mostly from Delta State and Onitsha got agitated and demanded for accommodation but the Arik staff on duty said they had no provision for accommodation.
The passengers gathered around the ticketing office in anger and demanded for an explanation. The aggrieved passengers ransacked the kiosk and breaking the tables and upturning chairs.
A US based passenger, Dr. Joseph Okpaku who narrated the ordeal to Thetimesofnigeria.com said he pleaded with Arik officials to show compassion by making a token payment towards offsetting accommodation cost but his pleas fell on deaf ears.
“It was a very dangerous situation and I had to excuse myself. It’s not so much the fault of the staff on duty but that of the management. How could you leave passengers stranded without making arrangement to accommodate passengers? This was clearly the airline’s fault because we could have left much earlier had we been told that the flight was going to be cancelled.” Okpaku said.
Most passengers who use Arik from either Abuja to Benin and Lagos Benin have often complained of notorious flight delays and outright cancellation without notice by Arik. A passenger who flies Arik from Abuja to Benin and back weekly told Thetimesofnigeria.com that Arik should be sanctioned for taking passengers for granted.
“There must be a regulatory agency that can hold the airline accountable. Every single flight has been delayed for the past two months without explanation to customers. They have a near-monopoly so I am not sure they are bothered about how we feel.” The customer who does not want his name published for fear of being blacklisted by the airline said.