An Arik Air flight traveling from Lagos to Asaba on Friday had to turn back to Lagos midair even after it reached its destination because it learnt the Asaba airport had “closed for the day”.
The Flight W3 628 had to return to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, with the disappointed passengers. Time was 6:15pm.
The spokesperson of the airline, Olabanji Ola, explained the incident. Premium Times quoted him as saying that “when the pilot approached the Asaba Airport, the control tower told him it would be too late for the aircraft to take off again if it lands in the airport”.
Accordimg to him,”the airport is for daylight operation because it does not have traffic lighting. So, there’s a particular time if the pilot enters the airport the plane would not be able to take off again because of sunset”.
The spokesperson said that Arik was very well aware of the limitation at the Asaba airport, but that “the normal time the airport is supposed to close which the airport gave us is 6.30 p.m.”
Some of the dissapointed passengers had to embark on night journies to meet up with important engagements on Saturday.
A Twitter user, Obong Amasi narrated the ordeal of one of the passengers.
He tweeted: “Today my Friend boarded a Flight (Arik) from Lagos to Asaba. On getting to Asaba, they told them Asaba Airport closes by 6pm. Can you believe they brought them back to Lagos even after they got to Asaba? Nigerians, where did we step on Jazz? Nigeria, its time to Grow!!!
“Even after the Flight was delayed for over an hour. And the annoying part is the behavior of Arik Staffs. God help us.
“She just got to Town and she’s on her way to the Village. Thank God for Journey Mercies. No thanks to Arik”.
The airline’s spokesman, however, explained why Arik was not liable for any damage the passengers may have suffered because of the incident.
He said: “What has happened is a force majeure, the airline is not liable. In this circumstances, what we did was to reschedule the flight for next day.
“It is not as if we have canceled the flight. Any passenger that is not ready to be on the flight again, we will refund the fare”.