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British Airways apologises, explains why Nigerians were abandoned in Ghana

British Airways apologises, explains why Nigerians were abandoned in Ghana

British Airways, yesterday, apologised to its Nigerian customers that were abandoned in Accra, Ghana, last week, saying the inconvenience was regrettable.

The legacy carrier said the situation was as a result of recent delays and diversions of flights occasioned by the inclement weather that caused very poor visibility at the Lagos Airport, coupled with a number of factors outside of their immediate control.

Some of the travellers, who only made it to Lagos by road this week, berated the airlines for “making over 300 Nigerians suffer for the problems at our airport.”

Air travel was grounded to a halt last week as harmattan haze blurred air-to-ground visibility at airports nationwide. While domestic carriers were delayed on the ramp for hours, their international counterparts had to divert Lagos-bound flights to Accra, Lome and Abuja airports over sub-optimal Instrument Landing Systems (ILSs) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA).

Airlines like British Airways, Delta Air, and Etihad had to choose between Kotoka International Airport in Accra or Gnassingbé Eyadéma International Airport, Lomé, the capital of Togo. Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways simply diverted Lagos traffic to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. The airlines have estimated losses in excess of N3 billion to the disruption.

General Manager, West Africa, Kola Olayinka, yesterday explained that the decision to delay or divert flights were made carefully by their pilots, who are well-trained to handle situations like this, especially in consideration of the safety and security of passengers and crew.

Explaining what the carrier did to secure accommodation for all the passengers, the airline chief noted that most hotels were taken up by passengers of airlines that were earlier diverted to Abuja.

“The direct result was the inadequacy of accommodation. To resolve this, we booked all 157 available rooms and accommodated 157 passengers. We also ensured the safety of the remaining passengers by accommodating them in a dedicated area provided by Sheraton, where we provided meals and drinks,” Olayinka said.

He, however, tendered the airline’s apology to its esteemed customers for the inconveniences of varying degrees, experienced these past few days.

“As a people-first airline, we ensured that our customers were properly accommodated in hotels where adequate rooms were available, meals, refreshments, and transport to and from the Airports were provided for their movement at the different Airports in Accra, Abuja, and Lagos.”

Olayinka stated that the Accra incident was markedly unpredictable as the delay lingered for two days due to the persisting weather condition.

“We chartered a Boeing 767 from Euro Atlantic to convey passengers from Accra to Lagos, however, a number of passengers had opted to make personal arrangements for their return.”

He called on passengers to send receipts of expenses incurred during this period to their customer relations team on standby to process the reimbursements and also attend to queries.