Monday, September 24, 2012

Arik Air resumes flights

Passengers Sunday besieged the office of the country's biggest carrier, Arik Air, as it resumed operations after suspending domestic flights on Thursday because of picketing by labour unions in the aviation sector.
On resumption, it operated about 100 flights that ferried about 7,000 passengers to several destinations across the country.
The decision to resume operations, a few days after the crisis between the airline and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), over the debt the airline owes the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), was taken at a meeting chaired by the Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, on Saturday.
Some of the passengers had arrived at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), Arik's operational hub for domestic flights at Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, as early as 5.30am for its first flight which was scheduled to depart at 7am.
Hundreds of passengers were seen in long queues, pushing and shoving to make their way to the airline's counters while touts made brisk business by offering to secure tickets for passengers at a fee.
Following the suspension of its flights last Thursday over a N7 billion dispute between the airline and the unions, Arik had made refunds to passengers who had previously booked their flights.
However, not all the passengers got refunds, resulting in a siege on the airline Sunday by both those who had previously booked flights and new passengers wanting to buy tickets
One of the passengers, Mr. David Johnson, who felt disappointed at his inability to secure a seat on Arik's 3pm and 5pm scheduled flights to Abuja, said he needed to be in Abuja before 6pm to keep an urgent appointment.
According to him: "I was told that all the flights to Abuja for 3pm and 5pm were fully booked and the only available flight to Abuja for now is 7pm. I really need to be in Abuja before 6pm.
"The funny thing is that I even have an Aero Contractors ticket which I ought to have used to Abuja but I got to the counter 30 minutes before boarding and I was told that they had closed the counter."
Asked about Arik's services, he said the airline offers reasonable services to its passengers, noting that its on-board services were good and that the airline always departs on time.
A female passenger, who refused to give her name, remarked that she had to come to the airport yesterday (Sunday) to ensure that she prepared properly for Monday's flight to Yola at 11am.
She was concerned that the flight might be fully booked because of the backlog of passengers.
"I know that all the flights will be fully booked and I don't want to take that risk by coming tomorrow morning because I don't want to be stranded because at times like this, the airline will give preference to those passengers who were supposed to fly during the crisis period," she said.
On her assessment of the airline, she said: "I have been flying Arik Air for the past four years and I can say that their services are very good.
"I can't really compare Arik with other airlines because I have not flown them apart from Arik."

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