11th September, 2012
Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim’s airline, Air Nigeria, has allegedly abandoned many Nigerian passengers in the United Kingdom, those abandoned told P.M.NEWS Tuesday.
The abandoned passengers, now struggling to raise air fares in the UK to return home, had purchased return tickets beyond 10 September, before Jimoh Ibrahim summarily sacked about 800 workers and grounded his airline Monday.
Among those abandoned is Mr. Funsho Arogundade, a correspondent with TheNews magazine and P.MNEWS who travelled on 25 August and was booked to return to Nigeria on 16 September but the airline stopped operating flights yesterday, 10 September.
He spent N165,000 for a round trip via Air Nigeria but the airline officials have vanished from the airport and have also stopped picking calls.
Arogundade said close to a thousand people might be affected by the sudden decision of Air Nigeria to stop flying.
He said many passengers had booked return flight tickets directly from Air Nigeria and were scheduled to return in weeks or months but had not heard from Air Nigeria since it announced that it would stop flying.
Arogundade said that many Nigerians who approached the Nigerian High Commission in London were told that there was no help for them there as officials were not aware of the details.
He said: “I was booked to return to Lagos on 16 September but when I heard that Air Nigeria will stop flying from 10 September, I rushed to Gatwick Airport which is far away from Essex where I am now stranded.
“On getting to the airport, I could not easily locate the Air Nigeria desk since they have no office at the airport. When I and other passengers eventually located the Air Nigeria stand, the only person there said he had no information for us and gave us two numbers (02074404800 and 02076286578) to call.
“We called the two numbers all through that day, and it was busy. The following day, one of the numbers went through and it turned out to be one of Air Nigeria’s agents in London.
“After explaining my situation to the agent who sounded like an Indian, he told me that the airline had gone bankrupt and there was nothing they could do.
“He gave me another number (02074488400). Ever since, I had been calling the number but there is no response from the other end.
“I didn’t return to Gatwick until Friday 7 September. While there, there was no Air Nigeria official around and snooping around, I heard that another plane will come the following day (Saturday) and seeing the huge crowd of other Air Nigeria passengers that were waiting to be airlifted on that day alone with no concrete assurance that a plane will come, I opted to source for alternative from my friends around.
“Already, the trip from the part of London where I stay to Gatwick through train and bus which cost me about £40 each for two different days that I went to the airport.
“Thus, I have resigned to fate and look for alternative. Already, I had to buy another Arik Air one-way ticket to Lagos for £410.” Arogundade said that those who have no money to buy tickets have been abandoned with no option to come back home and no information from Air Nigeria.