Protests are mounting over alleged inadequacies in operations of Medview Airlines.
NewsmakersNG is inundated with reports from passengers flying Medview in the past two days.
One of the customers, Alhaji Shina Adeyanju, who called NewsmakersNG on phone from the local wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, said, “We were to board a flight at 2pm; they shifted the time to 2 pm, then 4 pm, then 7 pm, then 8 pm, and finally 11:40 pm. We arrived in Lagos after 1 am. I think they are overwhelmed. It wasn’t weather problem. They just don’t have the capacity. It was one of their aircraft going to Yola last night that came back to pick us.
“They are dubious. The welfare and safety of the customer is not their concern. How can you drop someone in Lagos after 1 am, and there is no hotel accommodation?
“At the time I was buying the ticket, somebody told me that I would get home at 1 am, and the person was vindicated.”
NewsmakersNG spoke with the Managing Director of Medview Airlines, Alhaji Munir Bankole.
He said, “Flight delays is no news at this point in time. If the weather is bad, people must thank God for safe flights.”
A senior NAN journalist, Rotimi Ijikanmi, also shared a different experience on Medview through agency report a day earlier.
He gave an account of how a Medview flight from Abuja to Ilorin almost did not happen; and when it did after almost seven hours of delay, the flight was almost ruined by bad weather and poor landing equipment at Ilorin Airport.
Here is his account of the day’s event:
The flight with registration number VL 2122 (HK) was originally scheduled to depart Abuja at 6.30 pm on Tuesday to arrive Ilorin at 7.10 pm same day.
The passengers booked for the flight were, however, informed early enough by the airline of the rescheduling of the flight via SMS and e-mail.
The message says: “Dear Valued customer, your flight VL2122 from Abuja to Ilorin today, December 19, 2017 has been rescheduled to depart by 9:15pm due to operational reasons.
“We sincerely regret all inconveniences. Kindly contact us on 07082543952, 08183851135, 08066697400. Thank you.’’
At 9 pm, after passengers were checked in and were waiting at the local departure hall of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, it was announced that the flight had been delayed for one hour 30 minutes.
The announcement did not go down well with many of the passengers who went to the departure counter to express their displeasure.
They were told that the flight which was coming into Abuja from Lagos for departure to Ilorin was delayed due to operational reasons.
A female passenger, who simply gave her name as Kathleen, said she had been at the airport since 4 pm because she did not get the earlier message rescheduling the flight.
She said she discovered on getting to the airport that a digit was missing in the phone number she used in booking for the flight.
The passengers, who were patiently waiting for a new boarding time of 10.45 pm, got a rude shock when it was again announced that the flight had again been delayed by one hour.
There was, however, a little respite when at about 10.05 pm, it was announced that a Medview plane from Lagos had arrived at the Abuja Airport.
The passengers, who were rest assured of departure because of the aircraft, were again disappointed when another announcement came that the flight was delayed for another one hour owing to bad weather in Ilorin.
Upon inquiry at the departure counter, the passengers were told that it was raining in Ilorin.
At about 11 pm, the airline offered free snacks of juice, biscuit and cake to the waiting passengers.
In the course of the delay, some passengers who could not bear the harrowing experience returned home.
One of them who left for home in anger expressed disappointment for missing a crucial event in Ilorin, the purpose for which the flight was booked.
The passenger who spoke on condition of anonymity said the ideal thing for the airline to do after such delays was to make the flight optional for people on the service.
He said the airline ought to have announced that those who were still willing to wait should do so, while those who could not wait could reschedule or get refund of their booking.
The flight finally took off at about 1.33 am on Wednesday. The Pilot, Captain George Francis announced 40 minutes flying time to Ilorin.
Shortly after takeoff, the flight became bumpy with a lot of pitches, a sudden movement which made the aircraft to jerk and gallop.
With persistent increase in airspeed, the seat belt light permanently on, and no time for the crew members to serve refreshment, no one needed an expert to confirm the flight was going through turbulence.
The pilot, however, displayed his expertise in flying to the extent that passengers were calm.
Twice, the pilot told passengers and the crew members to remain seated.
The passengers, however, became curious 20 minutes after the 40 minute flight time had passed and there was no announcement of a descent into Ilorin airport.
It was at this time that the pilot came on again to announce the challenges the crew was facing.
He said due to poor visibility, the plane missed the lane, the usual course to Ilorin, and had to navigate through the North West Zone.
Ilorin is in North Central Zone of the country.
The pilot then assured the passengers that he and his co-pilot had finally located the Ilorin airport and would be descending shortly.
The descent though, bumpy, was well managed by the pilot to achieve a near soft landing of the aircraft.
While taxiing, the pilot called the attention of the passengers, particularly those on window seats to the lighting on the runway.
He said: “For those of you at the window, you will notice that the lighting on the runway by the left wing of the aircraft are working while those by the right wing are off.
“This happened some few minutes when we were descending.
“This could be dangerous because it is still raining here in Ilorin. We also have thunderstorm in Lagos, Abuja and Ilorin axis.
“Most of the navigational equipment in Ilorin are not functioning.’’
Some of the passengers, who spoke to NAN at the baggage-claim section of the airport, thanked God for safe arrival and commended the pilot for his expertise.
They called on the relevant authorities to address the poor state of infrastructure in the nation’s airports and the need to address the challenge of delayed flights with stiff sanctions against airlines.