Outrage as Aero Contractors abandon passengers’ luggage to shed load

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There was outrage at the Margaret Ekpo Airport in Calabar on Sunday, after passengers from Abuja on an Aero Contractor flight found that the airline had deliberately abandoned their luggage before take off.

Airline officials had claimed that passengers were hinted that their luggage would not be flying with them but those affected insisted the airline abandoned their luggage in Abuja on purpose, allegedly to conserve aviation fuel.

Although it is not clear how that could have been possible, but other passengers at the airport claimed the luggage was deboarded in Abuja to make room for airlifting of aviation fuel, reportedly to be used for another flight via Calabar.

Passengers who spoke to DAILY POST, said Sunday’s incident was not the first time the airline was denying passengers of their luggage. Some claimed they had been frequenting the airline, days after their flights and were yet to get their bags.

“My luggage was cleared by FAAN alongside others and we even saw it at the foot of the airline while boarding, which was very deceptive of Aero. I was shocked and angry when I did not see my luggage at arrival here in Calabar. I was told my luggage will arrive tomorrow by 5:30 pm” one of the affected passengers, a journalist, Bishop Onche, lamented.

Nuel, another Abuja-Calabar passenger said, two days after his flight, he was back at the airport, again, to see if his luggage had arrived.

“We arrived here on Friday, they said the aircraft was overcrowded or something like that and they couldn’t carry our bags. So I left, then I came here on Saturday to claim it and they said there was no flight yesterday that’s why I am here today being Sunday only to meet a host of new passengers without luggage too.”

Nuel, a Sound Engineer, lamented that he had very essential work equipment in his luggage for a job he came to Calabar for and was not informed that his luggage would be dumped for that long to shed some weight off the aircraft.

He also decried the attitude of airline officials who allegedly were nonchalant at the plight of passengers.

“This is past 4pm and I have been here for the past one hour and nobody has said anything,” Nuel complained.

Udom Blessing Matthew, another passenger, told DAILY POST that she was in Calabar for a marriage ceremony but two days after the wedding she came to attend, a bag containing her bridesmaids’ dress was still at the airport in Abuja.

Udom said she arrived on Aero contractors 3.10pm flight on Friday, only to discover her luggage was left behind in Abuja.

“I left Abuja on Friday for a wedding which was supposed to hold on Saturday, the dress and hair I was supposed to wear at the wedding are in my luggage and this is Sunday I still haven’t gotten them. I’ve been wearing the same clothes and inner wear since Friday,” Udom cried profusely.

She claimed the airline treated its passengers with disdain as none of those affected had received either a call, a text message or an explanation as to why their luggage was abandoned.

But an Aero Contractors Manager in Calabar, Victor Dan, who spoke to our correspondent said he had called Abuja and was told that the bags would come in on Monday afternoon, however, after a follow-up inquiry, an affected passenger confided in our reporter that he was yet to receive his luggage.

A staff of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) in Calabar, stationed at the Servicom desk said she had recorded the incident and that a report would be sent to the office of the NCAA as it is the responsibility of the agency to sanction the airline.

An official of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), who simply identified himself as Bruno, said this was not the first time the airline had treated passengers in such a shabby manner.

Bruno explained that though shedding of weight on aircrafts was not new in aviation history, the NCAA Act mandates the airline in question to inform all the affected passengers before take-off.

“And even after take-off, the airline is expected to pay compensation to the affected passengers while ensuring that the luggage is taken to the passengers wherever or whatever address they make available,” Bruno said.

He asked passengers to fill the necessary complaints forms promising to follow up the matter and assured our correspondent that the NCAA would ensure that compensation is paid to affected passengers and their luggage delivered to them.

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