Passengers, who were scheduled to travel out of the country with Arik Air on Tuesday but could not do so due to the strike action by aviation unions in solidarity with workers of the carrier, on Wednesday morning created an ugly scene at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos following the resumption of flight operations.
Many of the passengers billed to travel on Wednesday joined those of the previous day, creating chaotic situations at the check-in counters of the airline at both the General Aviation Terminal of the local airport and at the international terminal.
The situation persisted until noon when the airline was able to clear the backlog of passengers.
One of our correspondents, who was at the departure hall of the airport at around 8.40am, observed that passengers in their hundreds besieged the check-in counters of the airline trying to get boarding passes for the carrier’s Lagos-London bound flight.
Arik Air officials at the scene were overwhelmed by the surge in crowd, with some of the desperate passengers resorting to verbally abusing the officials, while some vowed never to patronise the airline again.
A passenger, who gave his name simply as Tunde, said, “I am really upset about the situation. I am a regular flyer of Arik to London and I can say without fear of contradiction that the airline is notorious for flight delays and cancellation, as well as poor treatment of its customers.
“I was supposed to have flown to London on Tuesday and have a meeting with some of my clients this morning, but through the airline’s carelessness, I have lost that opportunity.”
Another passenger, who refused to give his name, said he was at the check-in counter to demand a refund of his airfare, having missed the opportunity to be in London at the scheduled time.
“I had to look for money to buy another ticket of Med-View Airline to take me to the United Kingdom in two weeks’ time. However, that is coming at a great cost, because the new ticket is expensive because of the Christmas/New Year rush and because Med-View will land at Gatwick airport, which is farther from where I am going instead of Arik taking me to Heathrow,” the frustrated passenger said.
While some officials of the airline were struggling to appease the angry passengers, others resorted to hauling insults back at the intending travellers.
The Public Relations and Communications Manager, Arik Air, Adebanji Ola, said the airline had put in place extra flights to various destinations within the country that would operate between Wednesday and Saturday, and had also upgraded the aircraft on certain routes to bigger capacities to cope with the backlog of passengers whose flights were affected by the strike action.
He said passengers whose flights were affected by the disruption on Tuesday were given priority on Wednesday.
“Additional capacities have been allocated throughout this week from both Lagos and Abuja to destinations such as Enugu, Asaba, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Benin, Warri, Uyo and Yola to also enable many of our customers to get to their destinations for the Yuletide season,” he said.
Meanwhile, Med-View Airline has announced that it has expanded its operations into the West African sub region with the commencement of flight services to Monrovia, Liberia and Freetown, Sierra Leone via Accra, Ghana.
The airline said the expansion was in fulfilment of its promise to use its Accra operations as a stepping stone to other countries in the West Coast.
According to a statement by the airline, the inaugural flight to the two countries took off from Lagos via the Kotoka International Airport, Ghana to the Roberts International Airport, Liberia and Freetown International Airport, Sierra Leone.
“The outbound flight headed straight to Kotoka in Ghana before going back to Nigeria. It was with delight and ecstasy that the two countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone, welcomed the airline, describing the operation as a giant step towards strengthening regional integration among ECOWAS countries,” the statement read in part.
The representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, Ambassador Tunde Ajisomo, was quoted to have described the new operation as a courageous move by Med-View to fill the vacuum created by the absence of African airlines plying the West African routes.
He said the development aligned with the vision of the Economic Community of West African States to deepen trade and economic relations between African countries and their peoples.
Lufthansa and SWISS partner Airlink to offer convenient travel connections in Southern Africa
Lufthansa and SWISS Aircraft (Source: Lufthansa Group website)
Lufthansa and SWISS are partnering with Airlink, to offer customers access to over 25 domestic destinations in South Africa, including Bloemfontein, George, Upington, Skukuza, Nelspruit, Hoedspruit and Port Elizabeth – as well as over 20 regional destinations in Southern Africa, such as Gaborone, Kasane, Vilanculos, Maun, Victoria Falls, Maputo, Windhoek, Harare, Lusaka, Ndola, Bulawayo and many more.
The interline agreement which came into effect in January 2021, allows customers the convenience of purchasing a single ticket to or from a multitude of destinations in Southern Africa, via Airlink’s gateways in Johannesburg and Cape Town, therefore offering a truly seamless travel experience across both airlines.
“The Lufthansa Group is pleased to offer our customers even more travel options and convenience through our partnership with Airlink. We value Airlink as an important and reliable partner in the restart of our South African operations, and look forward to exploring further opportunities to widen the scope of our joint collaboration. This
partnership represents another milestone in further enhancing our network, and expressing the Lufthansa Group’s commitment to South Africa,” says Dr. André Schulz, General Manager Sales Southern and East Africa, Lufthansa Group.
Airlink CEO, Mr. Rodger Foster added: “We are proud and excited about our commercial interline agreement with Lufthansa and SWISS. We have a deep respect for these airlines, their values and global reach. We are confident that the partnership will provide our respective customers with a wider choice of travel options through the convenient interconnectivity of our respective flights at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport.
Jointly issued by Airlink and Lufthansa Group
Qatar Airways Expands Africa Network with Increase in Flight Frequencies
Qatar Airways Aircraft (Source: YouTube)
Cape Town, Casablanca and Tunis will increase to five weekly flights, while Johannesburg will increase to 18 weekly flights, offering passengers more flexible and reliable travel options
Airline’s young mixed fleet of sustainable aircraft has enabled it to continue flying throughout the pandemic and rebuild its global network to more than 800 weekly flights to over 120 destinations via the Best Airport in the Middle East
Qatar Airways continues to be the leading global carrier connecting Africa, operating one of the largest and most reliable networks in the region. Having become the largest international carrier during the early stages of the pandemic, the airline has applied its unrivalled knowledge of global passenger flows and booking trends to rebuild its Africa network to 23 destinations and more than 100 weekly flights.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are proud to be the leading international carrier connecting Africa with Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., offering more flexible travel options and a global network of flights that passengers, trade and business partners can rely on. Having launched three new destinations in Africa with Abuja, Accra and Luanda joining our network in 2020, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to the region by adding new routes and steadily increasing frequencies across the continent. With the resumption of Alexandria and Cairo, we will operate over 100 weekly flights to and from Africa with connections via the Best Airport in the Middle East, Hamad International Airport, to our global network of over 120 destinations. As global travel recovers in 2021, we look forward to further expanding our network and offering more connections to and from Africa.”
In line with the airline’s steady rebuild of its Africa network, Qatar Airways plans to increase frequencies to the following destinations:
- Alexandria (two weekly flights resumed 25 January)
- Cairo (up to 16 weekly flights resumed 18 January)
- Cape Town (increasing to five weekly flights from 1 February)
- Casablanca (increased to five weekly flights from 21 January)
- Durban (increasing to three weekly flights from 14 February)
- Johannesburg (increasing to 18 weekly flights from 26 January)
- Maputo (increasing to three weekly flights from 14 February)
- Tunis (increased to five weekly flights from 24 January)
The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 120 destinations with plans to increase to over 130 by the end of March 2021.
Qatar Airways has become the first global airline in the world to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. This follows HIA’s recent success as the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. These recognitions provides assurance to passengers across the world that airline health and safety standards are subject to the highest possible standards of professional, independent scrutiny and assessment. For full details of all the measures that have been implemented onboard and in HIA, please visit qatarairways.com/safety.
Passengers can book flights with peace of mind, knowing that Qatar Airways offers unlimited date changes and fee-free refunds for all tickets issued before 30 April 2021, for travel completed by 31 December 2021. The carrier’s industry-leading flexible booking policy also provides the permanent feature of exchanging tickets for a travel voucher with 10% additional value for all customers booking travel via qatarairways.com. For full terms and conditions visit qatarairways.com/Flexibility.
A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Airline’ by the 2019 World Airline Awards, managed by Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, ‘World’s Best Business Class’, and ‘Best Business Class Seat’, in recognition of its ground-breaking Business Class experience, Qsuite. The Qsuite seat layout is a 1-2-1 configuration, providing passengers with the most spacious, fully private, comfortable and social distanced Business Class product in the sky. Qsuite is available on flights to more than 45 destinations including Kuala Lumpur, London, Melbourne and New York. It is the only airline to have been awarded the coveted ‘Skytrax Airline of the Year’ title, which is recognised as the pinnacle of excellence in the airline industry, five times.
Congo Airways Orders Two Embraer E195-E2 Jets
Congo Airways Embraer Aircraft (Source: Embraer)
Just six months after their first E2 order, Congo Airways has placed a firm order for two E195-E2 jets. This is in addition to their existing two aircraft order for the smaller E190-E2. The four aircraft deal has a total value of USD 272 million at current list prices. This new firm order will be included in Embraer’s 2020 fourth quarter backlog.
Desire Bantu, CEO of Congo Airways said, “We see an opportunity in our market and the crisis we are all facing for Congo Airways to emerge stronger – which is why we are not waiting to place this further order. These new jets will allow us to extend our passenger and cargo operations regionally to high demand destinations such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Abidjan.
As we prepare for future success, we will have the flexibility, and the right sized, most efficient aircraft, to serve our customers as the market returns.”
“Africa has for too long been thought of as a market of mostly low frequencies and long thin routes. As airlines start ramp up their operations, the E2 family of aircraft is perfectly positioned to right size routes previously operated by narrowbodies, while keeping frequencies and adjusting capacity to new levels,” said Cesar Pereira, vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Embraer Commercial Aviation. “Congo Airways will benefit from the flexibility provided by the common cockpit on the E2 jet family meaning their flight crews can transition seamlessly between variants.”
The E195-E2 will be configured in a dual class 120 seat layout, 12 in business, 108 in economy. An additional 25% capacity when compared to the 96-seat configuration chosen by Congo Airways for their E190-E2s. The E2 deliveries are expected to begin in 2022 with Embraer and Congo Airways continuing to review the potential to anticipate the beginning of the deliveries. There are currently 206 Embraer aircraft operating in Africa with 56 airlines in 29 countries.