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United Nigeria Airline Leaves Anambra-bound Passengers Stranded In Asaba, Picks Owner

United Nigeria Airline has reportedly landed passengers at the wrong destination again! The reason for the detour puts a more absurd twist to the story this time. On Saturday evening, instead of landing at Chinua Achebe International Cargo Airport Umuleri (ANA), the airline landed an Anambra-bound flight at Asaba International Airport (ABB) because the owner of the airline was waiting to use the plane.

One of the passengers, an X user identified as Black Sheep (@9jaDisciple), called the attention of West Africa Weekly to the situation through a post and some supporting videos he shared. According to him, the flight was originally scheduled for 10:30 am but did not leave until about 4 pm. However, the unexplained five-hour delay is only the tip of the iceberg of disappointment that hit these passengers.

The X user says, “When we boarded, turns out the crew had just enough hours to fly into Awka & no more. However, @flyunitedng flew us to Abuja, changed pilot and crew, then flew us into Asaba.”

The airline had just enough time to fly its passengers to their destination but they rather landed in the wrong airport. It is useful to note that the two locations are over 40 km apart, with an estimated drive time of one hour. It does not help that the passengers, who included nursing mothers and their babies, children, and people who have been at the airport since at least 7 am, were only served one “bread roll and tiny chivita”.

The passengers had responded to the unprecedented, stressful development by protesting, but this was met with brazenness from the crew- one of whom assaulted a passenger. Soon enough, it dawned on the travellers that Mr Obiora Okonkwo, the owner of the airline, was at the airport waiting to use that plane. He, in fact, reportedly boarded and flew away in the same plane while some of the passengers remained frustrated at the airport until 10 pm. Given the deplorable state of security in the country, this is especially concerning.

Continuing his narration, @9jaDisciple says, “The owner’s words were; We should be grateful we arrived safely. Next, he said, “We didn’t even make money on this trip”. So basically, Obiora flew us to Abuja & then Asaba just so he could use the plane to fly to his destination.”

“Needless to say, I am going to court. This experience made me understand what happened in that Abuja/Asaba fiasco.”

A couple of Nigerians would still recall United Nigeria Airlines’s November “Abuja/Asaba fiasco” that made waves on the internet, prompting the suspension of all wet-leased aircraft in the operations of the airline. The flight, a wet-leased aircraft, which departed Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos, en route to Abuja, had diverted to Asaba. Upon landing in Asaba, the pilot informed passengers that the flight had landed in Abuja, confusing — the pilot later announced that he was given the wrong flight plan but the airline maintained that at all material time, he was aware of the temporary diversion and was properly briefed.

In its defence, a few hours after the incident, United Nigeria Airlines had said the flight was detoured as a result of bad destination weather. Aviation experts nullified this claim of the poor weather situation in Abuja at the time of the diversion. The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had commenced an investigation, while the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Capt. Musa Nuhu called an emergency meeting of the agency, where it was resolved that the excuse given by the airline was not tenable to the authority.

How does a person get on an Abuja-bound plane only to land in Asaba or board Anambra and land in Asaba? It leaves one to wonder if a Canada-bound plane will someday land in Calabar due to the sameness of the first letters. This absurd pick-and-drop affair and irregularity need to be critically addressed.

As the story unfolds and Nigerians call on the Federal Ministry of Aviation led by Fetus Keyamo to swing into action, we will keep you updated. Fly safe!

 

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