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Airline operators forced to delay Lagos flights over President’s visit

Domestic airline operators on Thursday delayed most of their morning flights to accommodate some of their passengers who could not get to the airport early enough due to roadblocks around the area and closure of some roads.

The Lagos State Government had declared Thursday a work-free day for public workers in the state for them to come out and welcome President Muhammadu Buhari to the state on a two-day visit.

The state government said there would be temporary road closures and diversions in Ikeja, Agege, Maryland and Victoria Island.

 

One of the major Lagos roads closed to vehicular traffic over the president’s visit.

The Corporate Communications Manager, Air Peace, Chris Iwarah, said many passengers could not make it early to the airport, prompting the carrier to delay its flights for them.

He stated, “A lot of our passengers were on their way but could not get to the airport, because of the diversions. We considered that Lagos, being our hub, we should delay the flights for many of them to get to the airport.

“The decision affected our network of flights in the morning because when a flight is delayed for just five minutes, there is a ripple effect, and about 95 percent of our flights originate from Lagos.”

Dana Air’s Media and Communications Manager, Kingsley Ezenwa, stated that the airline had sent out messages to passengers the previous day in anticipation of the delays, but many of them still had difficulties getting to the airport due to the road diversions.

He said some of the passengers complained that even though they left their homes early, they still met roadblocks as early as 4 am.

“We sent messages on Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter informing passengers that we would delay flights slightly for them. For those who said they would not travel again, we made arrangements to accommodate them on other flights, same for those who postponed till next week. We are not pushing the burden to them,” he added.

According to Ezenwa, the delays did not last for long and the airline was able to complete its schedule for the day.

Arik Air’s Public Relations and Communications Manager, Adebanji Ola, also stated that the airline slightly delayed some flights in the morning.

“It was just a slight delay; we caught up with our normal operations by midday,” he added.

The operators said the delays would have financial implications as some of the passengers, who were unable to travel, would ask for refund.

“If people are coming to request for refunds, we will be losing money but our major concern is not what we are going to lose, but how to manage the extra strain on the passengers,” Iwarah stated.

An industry source, however, stated that road closures and diversions for Presidents was a normal practice in many parts of the world.

“The President is the President. Nigerians and passengers should bear that in mind; that is how it works the world over,” the source noted.

  • With reports from The Punch

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