Over 50 passengers of Aero Contractors Airlines were left stranded at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja from Friday night till daybreak on Saturday.
It was learnt that passengers of flight AJ132 belonging to Aero were meant to leave NAIA for Lagos on Friday, but the flight did not take off until about 8am on Saturday.
The Coordinating General Manager (Communications) Aviation Parastatals, Mr. Yakubu Dati, and an official of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, who was present at the airport when the incident happened, confirmed the development to our correspondent.
The FAAN official stated that the passengers slept at the airport after the airline failed to convey them to their destination.
The official said, “They had to sleep at the airport because the flight was delayed till close to midnight and it will be unsafe to start looking for a hotel to lodge at that time of the night.
“Some of the passengers who opted to sleep in one of Aero’s aircraft on the tarmac were asked not to do so by security men. But most of them slept in the terminal.”
Asked of what may have warranted such treatment on passengers by the airline, the official said the flight might have developed engine problems.
The source said, “We suspect that the plane did not fly because of possible bird strike that might have resulted in engine problem. This has nothing to do with FAAN. It’s purely an airline issue
“The plane did not take off till I left the airport after my duty last night. They however flew this (Saturday) morning.”
When contacted, the aviation parastatals spokesperson urged passengers to make complaints at the information desk of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority at airports across the country.
Dati said he was aware of the development and stated that the NCAA would make its investigations before undertaking any action.
He said, “There’s an NCAA desk for consumer protection where passengers are supposed to report and it’s based on the report we get that we can take action.
“After our findings, we can now decide the compensation that the passengers are entitled to once we are able to establish an infringement.”
Dati urged air travellers to first report to the airline in question before complaining to the NCAA whenever they find their carrier wanting.
He said airlines too had rights and explained that the civil aviation regulator would always balance its findings before meting out any punitive measure.