By Chinedu Eze
Enraged middle aged woman allegedly assaulted the Arik Air Manager at the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri and seized the laptop modem of the airline as a way of ventilating her anger when the airline cancelled flight due to prevalent fuel scarcity.
The incident happened less than two weeks after an aggrieved passenger, said to be a Customs officer smashed the airline’s computer in Lagos, following the refusal of the airline officials to refund him the money, which he paid to reschedule his, which was eventually merged with an evening flight.
Eyewitness said the passengers were distraught and angry over the cancellation, even when the airline insisted that it notified the passengers about the cancellation owing to inadequate supply of aviation fuel.
One of the officials of the airline at the Owerri airport explained what happened, “We opened check-in at 7:00 am local time on Sunday, May 15, 2016 to start check-in for Owerri-Lagos flight. Some passengers on the cancelled Owerri-Abuja flight came to the counter. They complained that they did not get any SMS message from our airline to inform them that the flight had been cancelled even though we sent SMS to them on Friday.
Our Duty Manager in Owerri therefore stopped check in of the Lagos flight and took time to address them on the situation and the options of rebooking tomorrow or fly through PHC by 6: 00 pm or get their refunds if they so desire.”
He further explained that some of the Abuja passengers, 16 of them, came back to the counter and physically attempted to stop the check-in process for Lagos bound passengers, threatening that if the airline would not airlift passengers to Abuja, it would not be allowed to check-in the Lagos passengers.
“They tried to seize the laptop and even threatened to beat up the Duty Manager if he ever tried to check-in any Lagos passenger.
“At this point, all efforts to pacify them proved abortive. Our staff now went to call Aviation Security of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to intervene and control the excesses of the passengers.
According to the airline, the aforementioned passenger, at that point, tried to stop the checking in of the Lagos passengers.
“She tried to seize our laptop but was resisted by both our security and FAAN security. When she failed to secure the laptop she went behind the counter and tried again to get the laptop. At this time the female security officer on duty prevented her from doing it and in the process she started struggling with the female security officer who succeeded in preventing her from getting to the laptop. But she succeeded in taking our mobile Internet modem, which was being used for check-in and refused to release it. She was arrested by FAAN security and she was taken away while still holding tight to the modem,” the Arik official said.