New indigenous carrier, Discovery Air abandoned passengers who bought their tickets and were billed to travel on Christmas Day on 10:00 am flight from Abuja to Lagos. The action has angered the management of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) which has threatened to withdraw the airline’s Air Operating Certificate (AOC).
One of the passengers, who simply identified himself as Yakubu, told THISDAY that three days before the flight date, he logged on the airline’s website and bought and paid for a ticket with online confirmation.
“I got to the airport by 8:30 am and met seven other passengers but there were no Discovery Air officials at the airline’s check-in counter or their ticket booth. We waited till 9:00 am before we got their numbers and started calling. A representative of the Consumer Protection Directorate of NCAA who was on hand helped to call some of the staff members of the airline but their phones were switched off.
“There was no information from the airline on why they would not fly or were not at the airport. Many of us waited for hours but no one came and addressed us from the airline. At about 4:00 pm some of us bought the ticket of other airlines and left for Lagos. I left the airport at about 6:00 pm. It was a terrible experience,” Yakubu said.
When contacted, a source at the airline told THISDAY that he called Discovery Air chairman and other top officials to know why the airline did not operate on that day, but their phones were switched off. The source added that there was no official statement to that effect that some passengers were abandoned at the airport.
But the incident was confirmed by the Director of Consumer Protection Directorate of NCAA, Mr. Adamu Abdullahi, who said that the regulatory body gave a letter of strong warning to the airline, adding that if such action was repeated the airline would be strictly sanctioned.
THISDAY also learnt that the airline stopped operation for three days from January 1 to 3 and resumed on January 4, and when passengers came to request for the refund of their money there was no official to attend to them.
Angered by this development, the Director General of NCAA, Captain Murktar Usman was said to have contemplated withdrawing the airline’s AOC but was told by some officials of the agency that it has to follow a process.
However, the Managing Director of the airline, Captain Mohammed Abdulsalami said the three-day work free day by the airline was in celebration of the New Year that the airline resumed operations on January 4, 2015.