Aggrieved passengers surround Arik counters over delayed luggage

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*MD/EVP of Arik Air, Mr. Chris Ndulue

Irate passengers have laid siege to Arik Air’s counters at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport threatening to prevent the airline from boarding any other passenger till their baggage were delivered.

They were those whose luggage were left in London due the airline’s capacity constraints.

It was gathered that the passengers arrived at the airport last Saturday without their luggage.

The angry passengers lamented that since the aircraft arrived in Lagos the airline’s staff disappeared from the counters adding that most of them had missed the business transactions and other engagements they came to do in Nigeria.

The counters were filled to capacity with two sets of passengers- waiting for their luggage since Saturday as well as stranded London passengers, who, as at 3pm yesterday, were yet to depart Lagos for a flight that was originally slated for 11am.

Some passengers with health challenges were livid with anger and said so many unprintable things about the airline.

A middle-aged woman who spoke on condition of anonymity said she had not taken her insulin since Saturday as she does not trust what she gets in the country.

Another female passenger on a wheel chair who also craved anonymity said she had not taken her medication since she arrived on Saturday.

Earlier, Arik Air had explained that it was constrained to use a smaller aircraft, a Boeing 737-800, to operate the Lagos-London Heathrow route due to maintenance on the wide-body aircraft, A330-200 aircraft that plies that route.

The airline’s spokesman, Mr. Ola Adebanji said in a statement that apart from the maintenance carried out on the aircraft, one of the carrier’s’ A330-200 aircraft was hit by a handling company at John F Kennedy International Airport New York last Thursday hence the deployment of the B737-800 on the Lagos-London route.

“In order to avoid cancellation of the Lagos-London Heathrow flights, an alternative B737-800 aircraft had to be allocated on the route to minimize the inconvenience to booked passengers.

“The airline was constrained in capacity from a wide-body A330-200 aircraft to a narrow-body B737-800 aircraft and thus had to leave some of the passengers’ baggage behind in London.

“Passengers were however duly informed of this capacity restriction at the check-in desk at London Heathrow Airport and were advised of the possibility that some of their baggage will have to be sent on subsequent flights as per space availability.

“Arik Air offers the most generous in-cabin and checked in baggage allowance on the route and due to capacity restrictions on the smaller B737-800 aircraft, the airline has had to drop some of the baggage in order to accommodate maximum number of passengers.

“To this end, an extra aircraft was also operated to London Heathrow on Sunday, December 4, 2016 to accommodate all passengers and some outstanding baggage.

“Passengers have been assured that all the backlog of their baggage would arrive in Lagos on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 6 and 7, 2016 respectively.

“Arik Air regrets any inconvenience this development may have caused its esteemed guests.

“We appeal to our guests to show some understanding and not to resort to damaging of the airline’s properties and disruption of operations,” said Adebanji.

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