8 January 2019

Namibia: Ethiopian Airlines Steal Brothers' Christmas Cheer

Photo: Premium Times
Ethiopian Airlines.

Two brothers, Martin and Antonius Amugongo, were left stranded at the Addis Ababa airport on 12 December 2018 when they were denied passage to the United Kingdom for holidays and slept at the airport for hours.

As compensation, the brothers want more than N$22 000, £130 (N$2 400) for transport costs incurred and their baggage returned promptly.

The brothers aged 23 and 24 boarded Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 700 from Windhoek to the UK to visit their brother Lameck, who is currently pursuing his PhD in Cancer Sciences at the University of Manchester.

The flight stopped over in Addis Ababa where the brothers were supposed to connect another flight to Heathrow Airport, London.

Antonius said the flight landed at Bole Airport around 21h00 and they were only told that they could not proceed 10 minutes before their flight left at 01h20.

According to Martin, they spent two nights at the airport without accommodation, food and having to brave cold temperatures.

Antonius added that they survived on tap water from a restroom at the airport.

The brothers contacted the Namibian embassy in Ethiopia where an official they only identified as Mrs Sarah tried to help them by engaging Ethiopian Airlines' supervisor.

According to Antonius, the Ethiopian Airlines officials refused to talk to the official, saying that she did not want to speak to Namibians.

He also claims that the Ethiopian Airlines officials chased them out of their offices when they tried to talk to them.

Antonius and Martin returned to Namibia on 14 December 2018, without their luggage that had already been taken to Manchester, according to the information they got from Air Namibia's lost and found department.

Ethiopian Airlines has not been able to issue clarity on the matter, while questions sent in December had not been responded to.

In a letter the brothers sent to the permanent secretary of the international relations ministry, Selma Ashipala-Musavyi, they claimed that they had valid passports, an invitation letter and a bank statement of the invitees with more than £2 500.

The letter had been written as an appeal for assistance from the ministry after the brothers laid a formal complaint and claim against Ethiopian Airlines.

"They (Ethiopian Airlines) are not being helpful, and just sending us around," Martin wrote.

Ashipala-Musavyi said she did not receive the letter emailed to her by the brothers and so was not aware of the brothers' experience.

Lameck said he was surprised to learn from his brothers that they had been denied passage since they had all the documents requested by the airline.

"The issue affected me so much as I was waiting for my younger brothers so that we could enjoy the festive season," he said, adding that the manner in which Ethiopian Airlines treated his brothers for more than 30 hours -having to sleep on the airport floors- was inhumane and disrespectful.

During his brothers' detention in Addis Ababa, Lameck recalled having heard the airline staff shouting at his brothers, after having refused to speak to him.

He attributed the airline's conduct to racial prejudice against black Africans.


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