BRITISH carrier BA has offered to compensate its Nigerian passengers who it left stranded in Ghana as a result of its recent decision to divert all of its Lagos bound flights to Accra due to bad weather and poor visibility.
Over the last fortnight, BA, along with other international airlines like Emirates and Delta, have been redirecting their Lagos flights to Accra in Ghana and Dakar in Senegal due to the current Harmattan haze, which lowers visibility. According to the airlines, the instrument landing system (ILS) at the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos is not working, thus preventing them from landing in the current weather.
ILS a navigational aid that guides aircraft to land, especially during low visibility and although the equipment has been bought in Lagos, it has not been calibrated, so cannot be used. It is believed that as a result, as many 1,500 Nigerians were left stranded at hotels in Accra, as there were no adequate arrangements to airlift them to Lagos.
Kola Olayinka, BA’s general manager West Africa, has now promised that the airline will pay compensation to all its affected passengers. Apologising for the inconvenience, he added that a number of the factors which led to the debacle were outside the airline’s immediate control.
He stated that the decision to delay or divert flights was made by the airline’s pilots who were trained to handle such situations in consideration of the safety and security of the passengers and crew. According to Mr Olayinka, during the period, the airline ensured that its customers were accommodated in hotels where adequate rooms were made available to them.
Furthermore, Mr Olayinka added that meals, refreshments and transport to and from the airports were provided for their movement at the different airports in Accra, Abuja, and Lagos. Arik Air organised an airlift to transport the passengers from Ghana to Nigeria but this was after passengers had been subjected to delays.
Mr Olayinka said: “We regret the frustrations experienced and the disruptions it would have had on earlier-planned engagements of our esteemed customers. We would also like to use this opportunity to encourage passengers to send receipts of expenses incurred during this period to our customer relations team on standby to process the reimbursements and also attend to queries.”
He said, “Regrettably, in this unique case, most hotels were taken up by passengers of airlines that were earlier diverted and the direct result was the inadequacy of accommodation. To resolve this, we booked all 157 available rooms and accommodated 157 passengers and also ensured the safety of the remaining passengers by accommodating them in a dedicated area provided by Sheraton where we provided meals and drinks.”
According to Olayinka, the Accra incident was markedly unpredictable as the delay lingered for two days due to the persisting weather conditions. He explained that the airline chartered a Boeing 767 from Euro Atlantic to convey passengers from Accra to Lagos, adding that a number of passengers, however, opted to make personal arrangements for their return.