Angry passengers on Thursday evening blocked the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, preventing planes from taking-off or landing.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that the blockade was caused by passengers who disembarked from an Arik Air flight that was meant to take them to the Margaret Ekpo Airport, Calabar from Abuja.
According to reports, the flight that had the Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke, on board, was denied landing at the Calabar airport at about 5.30pm by the station manager due to safety concerns.
It was learnt that despite pleas by the aides to the governor to allow the landing of the aircraft, the station manager refused, citing the fact that the runway lightening was poor thus, the pilot was left with no other choice than to return the passengers to the Abuja airport.
A passenger in one of the stranded airplanes said he and other travellers had to disembark and sat on the tarmac for more than one hour after the pilot announced that the plane could not take off because the runway had been blocked.
The General Manager, Corporate Communications, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mr. Yakubu Dati, who confirmed that the Arik passengers blocked the runway, blamed the airline for the incident.
He added that the passengers had insisted that Arik must compensate them for breach of contract, especially since the flight was delayed.
The spokesperson of Arik Air, Mr. Adebanji Ola, said that it was not the fault of the airline that the Calabar airport was closed by the time the flight from Abuja got there.
He said, “The flight was delayed because there was Very Important Personality movement and there was also some weather issues, it is not the fault of the airline that the plane could not land there.
“We are amazed that despite the security at the Abuja airport, passengers were still able to hijack the aircraft and hold other planes to ransom, that should not be the case.”