Last week Friday remains an unforgettable day for Azman Airline. Some of its passengers as well as officials at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, found it tough after passengers protested against the cancellation of their flights by the airline.
The protest turned violent with a female staff of the airline collapsing after being hit during the melee. A passenger was also left with a bloody mouth while another staff had his cloth nearly ripped off his body.
- 600 Nigerians stranded in Saudi Arabia call for help to return
- Quit notice: Youths attack Fulani communities in Oyo
Daily Trust reports that Azman flights were also cancelled in Lagos and Abuja, a development Azman Air attributed to “maintenance issue” which it said resulted in the delays and cancellation of many flights last week.
For most of the passengers spoken to by our correspondent, the cancellation was less painful compared with the attitude of the airline’s officials who left them on the queue for hours without any explanation as to what was going on.
“Can they try this in Lagos?” One of the passengers kept shouting, with another one calmly demanding for explanation and refund of his money so that he can book another flight.
But the melee took a wilder dimension when passengers of the Kano to Lagos flight learnt that the flight, which was earlier rescheduled from 7:30am to 8:30pm, would not be departing the airport any more.
At the check in station, passengers of the airline for Kano-Abuja, who had earlier been checked in also suffered a similar fate as their flight was again rescheduled.
Daily Trust gathered that a similar incident happened on Thursday night when an Azman 8:15pm flight from Abuja to Kano was cancelled after the plane developed a fault.
The airline was said to have rescheduled the flight from 8:15pm Thursday to 4.30pm Friday without courtesy or apology to passengers, leaving passengers frustrated as no one was available to talk to them.
They were not offered any accommodation or transportation, it was gathered.
A passenger for the Kano-Lagos flight showed our correspondent similar messages she got from the airline for both the morning and evening cancellation.
The evening message which was sent after the melee at about 9:20pm read: “We regret to inform you that your Azman Air flight ZQ2310 KANO-LAGOS, TODAY 15TH JANUARY, 9:00PM has been rescheduled to depart at 10:30AM on 16th JANUARY due to operational reasons. We sincerely apologize for any inconveniences caused…”
A female passenger for the Kano-Abuja flight told our correspondent amidst tears that her wedding ceremony was scheduled for the following day (last Saturday) in Abuja and she had no idea how she would meet up for the ceremony.
Another female passenger, who asked not to be named, for the Kano-Lagos flight that was cancelled lamented what she described as “becoming the usual”, noting that she had a similar experience with the airline in the first week of August 2020 when her flight was rescheduled and she was only notified a few hours to the flight.
“The question I keep asking these Nigerian airlines is what if the passenger was having a medical emergency and the cancellation or rescheduling resulted in death or something else, will they take responsibility?” She asked.
“I think the government and relevant regulatory agencies in the aviation industries are being too soft with them (airlines) because this is not just about Azman alone; almost all of them are guilty. Aero is now being colloquially called error for a reason. They (Aero) cancelled my Lagos-Kano flight early December without providing any alternative,” she added.
“At least, Azman will even tell you when they will be able to fly, Aero will just cancel without giving you an alternative. For the December flight that was cancelled, I had to send my daughter to their office in Ikeja airport, before they were able to reschedule the flight for me,” she said.
While passengers had different tales about the frustration and inconvenience they went through with the airline last week, the issue of delays and cancellations has become a recurring decimal in the aviation sector following the aircraft shortage currently being experienced by all the domestic airlines.
Our correspondent learnt that many aircraft belonging to domestic carriers are still stuck in maintenance facilities in Europe. It was gathered that most of the aircrafts started returning from service two weeks ago.
In the case of Azman, our correspondent learnt that two of its aircraft broke down within 24 hours.
The first one was on Thursday and the other one broke down on Friday thereby causing a major disruption to its flights with passengers venting their anger on its staff.
An airport worker at the Murtala Muhammed Airport terminal two (MMA2) said the development caused chaos at the terminal as passengers became restless when their flights were delayed for hours and subsequently cancelled.
“We had our flight moved for 15 hours from Kano to Lagos and we had to return to our hotel only to come back and the flight was later cancelled,” said a passenger who wouldn’t want his name in print.
A spokesman for Azman Air, Mr. Nura Aliyu, in a chat with Daily Trust Saturday, said the development was regrettable and blamed the delays and cancellation which he said have been sorted out on the unforeseen “maintenance issue.”
He said, “It was last week that we encountered this problem. It was a maintenance issue. One happened in Abuja and the other in Kano. The first one had a battery problem when we were about to operate our last flight and the battery went down and there was no flight from Lagos to have ferried another battery to Abuja to operate that flight.”
“But on Friday and Saturday, we were able to sort out the issues by clearing all the outstanding flights and our passengers. What happened was regrettable but, in our effort, to maintain our safety record, we didn’t want to put the lives of our passengers in danger,” he added.
Aliyu said: “We understand the frustration of having our passengers’ schedule disrupted but we are doing everything possible to ensure this does not happen in the future.”