Baggage delay: Angry passengers protest, threaten to disrupt Air Maroc operations - PUNCH
BY MUDIAGA AFFE, MAUREEN IHUA-MADUENYI and DEJI LAMBO
Several passengers caused a stir at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos on Saturday following their inability to retrieve their luggage from the Royal Air Maroc airline over five days after they had arrived the country.
While describing the situation as frustrating, the passengers vowed to stop the operations of the Moroccan airline if their luggage was not delivered to them on Sunday.
Some of them, who spoke with Sunday PUNCH at the departure wing of the airport, said the airline had not been sincere with them on the circumstances surrounding the delay and the actual state of their luggage since they arrived.
It was learnt that some of the stranded passengers, who arrived on different days, boarded the airline from Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Morocco.
A lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Ibadan, Dr Ifeoluwa Awogbindin, said the latest development was the height of humiliation.
Awogbindin, who said he flew in from Canada after completing a research programme, stated that he had been stranded in Lagos since he got back to the country on December 10.
He said, “I have been in Canada for the past five months to conduct research, now we are home. I have not faced this kind of humiliation (before) but here we are. I flew back to the country with Royal Air Maroc without my luggage. Some people have been here for four to five days waiting for their luggage.
“The information is that anytime the aircraft lands, it comes with passengers without their luggage. So, we are here without our luggage. Some had come with their families and others with health issues but they cannot access their luggage because they were left behind. The most worrisome part of it is that nobody attends to us. We cannot function except we have our bags.
“For some of us, the bulk of what we brought is in our luggage. We are calling on the relevant authorities to come to our rescue.
“Some officials of the National Aviation Handling Company have told us that such practice by airlines is the order of the day. We have been coming here every day for the past four days. There are over 100 that are affected by this negative development.”
Emmanuel Agene, who also arrived on the same flight, said he had exhausted his patience and might take steps to stop the airline’s operations from Sunday if nothing was done to address his situation.
“I have exhausted my patience since I came four days ago. We have been coming here every day and they keep telling us the same story. We keep having different groups of air passengers that flew the same airline and they have been joining us every day.
“By Sunday (today) if they do not bring our luggage we would interrupt their services at the airport. The airline will not be allowed to fly back and we would wait for the repercussion because they have humiliated us enough.
“We are calling on the authorities concerned to ground the aircraft otherwise we would take some steps to do that. If it is our Nigerian airline that has done this in Casablanca, I can assure you that they will set that aircraft ablaze.”
Lucky Omogo, a passenger who left Spain on December 10, 2019, to keep an appointment in Lagos said he boarded his flight with two luggage weighing 23 kilogramme each.
He said, “I got to Casablanca and we continued here. Only for us to get to Lagos and they said my luggage did not come with the aircraft.
“This is the height of humiliation. I have been stranded in Lagos and roaming the streets without my luggage. How can I come from Europe and for five days no one has told me where my luggage is? I do not have money on me and my family is worried.”
Also, an aggrieved passenger from Spain who said he came in through Morocco, Mr Johnson Sylvester, said, “I got here on December 11 from Spain.
“I’m not the only one and we have been coming here but they have failed in all their promises to bring our luggage. The worst part of it is that my drug is in the luggage. I am sick and tired of the situation.”
Buchi Kingsley, who arrived Nigeria from the United Kingdom, lamented the delay, saying passengers had been subjected to ridicule at the airport since they arrived.
He said, “I arrived Nigeria since December 10 on Royal Air Maroc but on getting to Lagos I was told that my three bags were not brought in. I paid €160 for extra luggage and they did not bring them. I have complained to NAHCO to make complaints but no positive action till date.”
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Efforts to speak with a representative of the Royal Air Maroc airline, identified simply as Hadiji, proved abortive as her phone lines were switched off.
The airline’s office was also locked as other passengers who had complaints could not find anyone to attend to them.
Meanwhile, the General Manager, Public Relations of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Mr Sam Adurogboye, said the regulatory agency’s consumer protection department would look into the matter.