Lagos — Some stranded British Airways passengers in Accra, Ghana on Tuesday accused the United Kingdom (UK) of abandoning them in the neighbouring country.
No fewer than 300 of the passengers were affected following the diversion of the flight to Ghana last week in the wake of the inclement weather which prevented almost all international airlines from operating into the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
But the airline today said it was not correct that it abandoned passengers in Accra, Ghana. Its Regional Manager, for West Africa, Mr. Kola Olayinka told our correspondent in Lagos.
Some of the passengers however claimed that the airline told its Nigerian passengers to find their way to Lagos, Nigeria when it was glaring that it could not fly them into Lagos.
One of the affected passengers, Mr. Michael Williams, who is the Head of Business Development for EbonyLife TV insisted that the airline abandoned them in Accra, Ghana and told them to find their way to Lagos after 48 hours in the city.
It was learnt that the flight was supposed to land in Lagos last Tuesday, but the diversion to Accra made the passengers to spend another two days in Accra before they eventually returned to Lagos on Friday night through their own private arrangements.
Williams said some of the affected passengers had to return to Nigeria on Friday evening through a passenger bus chartered from Cross Country Company.
He stated further that the airline also gave the passengers the option of returning to London with its aircraft, a Boeing 747 plane deployed for the Lagos-London flights.
He said: "We were supposed to land in Lagos last Tuesday, but unfortunately, there was a weather issue in Lagos and the flight diverted to Accra, Ghana.
"We went to Accra and they promised that they would try the next day, Wednesday. We were put in a hotel and we went back the next day, but they said the situation didn't improve.
"We sat at the Accra Airport, which equally had fog, but the difference was that the facilities were working perfectly as airlines were landing and taking off.
"So, the following day, which was Thursday, they said the situation had not improved and the pilot told us that it was not the weather challenge, but the landing aids at the Lagos airport were not functioning, which made landing difficult.
"The pilot said the Instrument Landing System (ILS) at the Lagos airport was not calibrated. They said they had the same situation in January.
"So, by Thursday afternoon, we got communication from British Airways that we should go to the airport to reclaim our luggage because their aircraft had to return to London. I didn't have any check in luggage, but I had to follow my friend to the airport.
"It was at the airport that British Airways told us that they have cancelled the flight and we should find our way to Lagos. They said we should keep our receipts in order to claim all expenses we may have incurred. They said henceforth, we will be on our own as the hotel and feeding they paid for would elapse by that Thursday.
"They also gave us the option of returning to London with them with that aircraft or the regular Accra-London flight. What we realised was that because we were on our own; we had to take decisions on our own. So, we decided to come back by road from Accra to Lagos."
In a memo sent to the passengers, the airline informed them to make their arrangement on returning to Lagos.
The memo said: "Due to adverse weather at the airport we were unable to safely land into Lagos Airport. We regret to inform that due to the operational constraints, we have had to cancel this flight.
"We recommend that you make your own travel arrangements to Lagos as we are unable to operate safely in the coming days.
"If you wish to travel from Accra - London Heathrow, there are a limited availability of seats to book on. Please speak with our colleagues at the airport to adjust your ticket, subject to availability."
The Regional Manager in a chat with our correspondent said it was not correct the passengers were abandoned at Accra, saying the airline chartered an aircraft which conveyed all the passengers to Lagos.
He said he was not aware of any passenger coming to Lagos on a charter bus.