- Nigerians on board Air France from Paris to Lagos/Abuja are reportedly left stranded at Charles De Gaulle International Airport
- The airline said the delay was due to plan malfunction and lack of aviation fuel
- The passengers, however, complained of ill-treatment from the staff of the airline
Passengers including hundreds of Nigerians on board Air France operated commercial aircraft from and to Lagos and Abuja were since Wednesday, July 18, stranded at Charles De Gaulle International Airport, Paris.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that many of them have had to sleep at the airport from Wednesday, July 18, for a day and two owing to what the management of the airline claimed as malfunctioning of their planes and lack of aviation fuel.
Some of the passengers had left Lagos and Abuja for various destinations while many were returning to Lagos from various countries en route the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
Air France, which said their planes could not fly, was scrambling for hardly available seats in other airlines in alliance with them to fly the passengers to their destinations.
Many of the passengers, who in their bookings had about three to five hours layover in Paris were left stranded spending 17 to 48 hours at the airport.
Some, who were lucky to get the seats in the allied airlines were rerouted and had to spend additional several hours to get to their destinations albeit several inconveniences.
Many of the passengers complained of ill-treatment and alleged flout of standard aviation regulatory operations against the airline.
More pathetic were the vulnerable passengers – the elderly, women with children and some with disability, who reportedly went through harrowing experiences.
Olagunju Ojo and Afolake Arikewuyo, who were in their late 70s said they left the US for Lagos en route Paris on Tuesday, July 17, only to be left stranded at the airport.
The women, who could barely speak English and do not understand French, were in the long queue unassisted while struggling to get their cancelled flight to Lagos rerouted.
They said they had arrived at the airport for over 12 hours only to be told that their flight to Lagos had been cancelled and there was no alternative arrangement for the day.
Ms Ojo, who spoke in Yoruba language, said: “We cannot go to Lagos today and there is no Schengen visa to take us outside the airport to sleep.
“They said we will sleep at the airport here and there is no way to communicate with my people waiting for me at the airport at home and those I left in the US.”
Another passenger, Theresa Fashida, also an elderly woman, said she left Ireland for Lagos en route Paris and had been at the airport for eight hours struggling to see how her cancelled flight could be rerouted.
Fashida said the airline later succeeded in rerouting her flight through Nairobi, Kenya from where she would travel to Lagos with Kenyan Airway the following day.
“The flight from Paris to Nairobi is tomorrow, that means I have to sleep at this airport because there is no hotel accommodation provision for me and I do not have Schengen visa.
“I did not book Nairobi flight; I don’t know why they should make me pass through these pains with my age.
“You can see, this is the only pack of food given to me since I arrived at this airport and even their airline officials are not friendly at all,” she said.
Some other Lagos bound passengers were rerouted to South Africa to fly South Africa Air from Johannesburg.
NAN reports that some of the passengers, who left Lagos for the official engagement in Washington DC, were also left stranded at the Charles De Gaulle Airport.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had previously reported that Nigeria's minister of state for aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Wednesday, July 17, unveiled the name and logo of the nation's new national carrier, Nigeria Air.
Sirika, speaking in London at the ongoing Farnborough International Airshow, said: "This will be a national carrier that is private sector led and driven.”
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