There was commotion at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Wednesday as some passengers, who have booked flights with Arik Air, went haywire over alleged termination of the flights.
In a video, which went viral on the Internet on Thursday, the enraged passengers descended on an official, said to be the customer service liaison manager of the airline. He was identified simply as Andrew.
The passengers shunned airport workers, who tried to prevail on them, beat up the Arik official and demanded that their fares be refunded.
“I don’t need any explanation. You cannot go anywhere. Give us our money back,” a passenger said.
“Follow am jor! Follow am (Follow him),” another aggrieved passenger exclaimed as the manager made to escape from the crowd.
One of them, who wore a white dress, went after the worker and pushed him down. The passenger pummeled him before he was rescued by his co-workers, who took him into an office at the airport.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the passenger had had his flight from Lagos to Johannesburg, South Africa, cancelled on three consecutive occasions without any explanation by the airline.
Another protester said, “You are mad! How do we get our money?”
Social media commentators blamed the occurrence on the inefficiency of the airline, and urged that it should be sanctioned.
A commentator on The PUNCH website, Michael Segun, said, “I hope the FG (Federal Government) and Minister of Aviation will take a firm decision to suspend the operations of Arik Air. Arrogant manager fought passenger.”
The Arik Air in a statement by its spokesperson, Ola Adebanji, said the change in flight schedule was due to shortage of aviation fuel.
“On Wednesday, January 4, our Lagos-New York JFK service which was to operate at 11.30 pm had to be rescheduled by 24 hours to operate at 11.30 pm on Thursday, January 5, due to the shortage in supply of aviation fuel. Our Lagos-Johannesburg service and Lagos- Accra service were also on ground awaiting fuel while the Lagos-New York service was standing by for fuel.
“When our Customer Service Manager at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, approached the passengers to explain the situation to them, one of the passengers attacked him. This was followed by a mob of passengers who brutally beat up the Arik Air worker.
“Arik Air strongly condemns the increasing number of attacks on our staff and property in the recent months.”