It was confusion galore at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal2 (MMA2), where the embattled Aero Contractors operates from, as flights to Port Harcourt and Abuja were cancelled and passengers were moving from one end of the terminal other to the looking for airline staff.
The confusion cum drama is coming barely few hours after the airline management in an online statement disclosed that the airline founded in 1959, said that it would suspend its scheduled services beginning from Thursday, September 1, 2016.
This is just as the about 1,400 staff of the airline were sent on Indefinite Leave Of Absence as result of the issues bedeviling the airline.
At the airline’s counters at MMA at about 2.30 pm, the entire check –in and ticket counters were empty and disserted as passengers who had come to either board or buy tickets were confused as there was no body to speak to .
Passengers, who had come to board flights to Port Harcourt and Abuja at 12noon, were disappointed as the flights were cancelled with passengers not knowing who to contact and get their refunds, as officials of the airline had disappeared.
Angry passengers, whose flights were canceled and who spoke on the condition of anonymity told our reporter that they only got to know of the cancellation after they checked –in their luggage and collected board passes.
The passengers, who were seen moving from the ticket sales counters to the check-in counters and from there to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) at the first floor of the terminal, where they were later directed upstairs without solutions to their problem.
An elderly woman,who spoke on condition of anonymity, who was affected by the impromptu cancellation, said that she had already checked –in her luggage and the flight was to depart at 12noon and that she had been at the terminal since 10 am.
She lamented that she only got to know about the cancellation after she had check-in and collected boarding pass.
She said that she has been at the terminal waiting for the flight to fly her and other passengers to their destinations at 12noon, when it was announced that the flight would take off at 1.30pm and subsequently cancelled the flight.
“How do I get my luggage and go back home now. I don’t know anywhere and it was my people who dropped me in the morning and they left immediately .Now my luggage has been checked –in, how do I collect my luggage,” She complained.
Some of the passengers numbering about 100 ,who had also checked-in their luggage for the Abuja and Port Harcourt flights were seen moving towards the arrival to proceed to the baggage reclaim area to collect their luggage.
At the baggage reclaim area, the passengers who at that point were very angry rained curses on Aero Contractors for allegedly knowingly selling tickets to passengers when the airline knew that it will not fly.
The passengers were further angered by the disappearance of the officials of the airline from the counters to assist them in getting their refund.
It was learnt that at Abuja Airport, passengers are facing the same situation like their counterparts in Lagos and Port Harcourt.
Meanwhile, the exit of Aero Contractors from the MMA2 terminal may affect commercial activities and revenue of the terminal, as the airline prior to the planned suspension of flight was the leading airlines at the terminal.
The airline’s counters which before now were usually experienced long queue even at critical periods were like abandoned building, whose owners had died.
As at the time of compiling this report, the passengers were still moving their luggage about in attempt to find Aero officials to collect their refunds.
However, the airline in a reaction to the drama witnessed at the terminal at about 2 pm said that the affected passengers will get their refunds.