200 Nigerian Passengers Stranded As Lufthansa Diverts Flight to Cotonou, Malabo - VANGUARD
By Prince Okafor
A Lufthansa flight LH566 from Frankfurt to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Lagos, was on Friday diverted to Cotonou, Togo and later to Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, by the pilot.
The pilot had announced to the over 200 passengers on board that the Lagos airport was closed.
Vanguard gathered that among the passengers, 15 Malabo-bound passengers were scheduled to arrive Lagos by 5:45pm on March 3, before flying to Equatorial Guinea capital.
But the flight later arrived Lagos at 2a.m. on March 4.
However, findings showed that the Lagos airport was not closed at any time on March 3.
One of the passengers, who preferred to remain anonymous, while narrating the situation said: "We left Frankfurt on March 2, by 12 noon to Lagos and Malabo in Equatorial Guinea.
"This flight was supposed to be at Lagos by 5.45p.m. On getting to Lagos, the pilot told us that they couldn't land because the Lagos airport was closed.
"He took us to Contonou airport and landed waiting for Lagos airport to open. We were there for almost three hours.
"During this time, relatives waiting for the flight were panicky. Then individuals were now making calls to relatives asking what was happening in the Lagos airport.
"It was then we realised that Lagos airport was not closed. We now demanded that the pilot take us to Lagos.
"After much argument, the pilot told us he was taking us to Malabo, to drop the 15 passengers before coming back to Lagos to drop over 200 passengers.
"This was what the pilot did. We now landed at 2am. When we said we won't come down on arrival at Lagos without the airline making a proper arrangement for us, the pilot threatened us and said he would call the police to evacuate us."
In response to the development, Lufthansa management issued a notice to the Frankfurt-bound passengers from Lagos.
The circular dated March 3, 2023, stated, "Dear Lufthansa guest, unfortunately, your flight LH569/3 March from Lagos to Frankfurt is delayed due to operational reason.
"The incoming aircraft has been diverted and to land in Cotonou (Benin) and then to Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) before reaching Lagos destination.
"Lufthansa would like to sincerely apologise for this delay and any inconvenience it may have caused to your journey.
"We have now planned an arrival of the aircraft in Lagos around 01:15 (it arrived 2am) and we would do our best to manage quick turnaround."
Meanwhile, the General Manager, Public Affairs, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs. Faithful Hope-Ivbaze, in a swift reaction said: "There was never a day/time that MMA was closed.
"I will let you know if there will be any closure in the coming days."
Airlines that arrive between from 4p.m. and 7p.m. to the MMIA everyday include Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, British Airways and others.