Houston International Airport, USA
Nigerians evacuated from the U.S., their relations and friends who accompanied them to the airport have continued to lament for the umpteenth time, the ignominious manner they claimed to have been treated like a chattel by the embassy officials in Houston who kept the flight delayed for about ten hours in an inhuman and uncourteous manner.
Particularly irked were most of the passengers who flew in the Ethiopian Airline from Houston to Lagos in the beginning of this week, Sunday, 16th August.
They lamented that since the arrangement for the evacuation flights were brokered by the embassy, the officials last Sunday delayed the flight as they were hawking tickets at an exorbitant fee for would be evacuees who often are many and desperate to return to Nigeria.
An American, William Mills, who accompanied to the airport, his Nigerian friend who had been stranded for about six months, condemned the notorious manner the embassy officials hawked available seats at the airport and openly offered prohibitive ticket fee for their fellow Nigerians stranded in the U.S.
Mills said the Ethiopian Airline flight of last Sunday, was delayed in an inhuman manner as passengers were kept in the aircraft with the air-conditioning switched off, as mothers had their exasperated children to care for while Nigerian officials were haggling in the departure hall for the highest bidder to procure the remaining seats in the aircraft.
He said the ET flight boarded on-time. But Upon completion of boarding, embassy officials counted no-shows and open seats onboard.
Then the auction began, only this time they weren’t getting the margins they sought. Like the typical negotiations at Idumota or Balogun markets in Lagos island, the back-and-forth between eager, but apparently not too eager standby passengers took about eight hours.
The crew members were harassed and sharp outburst of various dimensions rented the cabin. The evacuees were ignorant that the delay was no fault of the airline’s crew but that of their fellow Nigerians.
When the number of no shows had been ascertained, the One-way ticket which cost USD1,575, was immediately marked up between 15% to 25% for desperate fellow Nigerians anxious to return home.
This particular incidence and numerous others confirmed the fears exercised by the leadership of National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents, NANTA, that their business is gradually being usurped by those involved in the evacuation flights which gladly is just at its last lap.
It will be recalled that last Monday, the Aviation Minister, Capt. Hadi Sirika, announced 29th August as the date for the resumption of international flight only for the Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr, Sanni Aliyu, to differ.
However, the good news is that, the Federal Government of Nigeria had indicated its readiness to resume international flight at the earliest possible time, as the PTF Coordinator agreed with the promptness the issue deserved as could be elicited in the tone of Capt. Sirika’s announcement on his tweeter handle @hadisirika.Share