Hundreds of Air France passengers in Nigeria have been stranded after a Paris-bound flight reportedly experienced engine failure.
Olusegun Paul, one of the passengers, said the flight was supposed to depart the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos around 11pm on Thursday night.
Paul said after some efforts by the airline, passengers who had already been checked-in, were asked to disembark.
Business class passengers were reportedly lodged at the Sheraton Hotel in Ikeja, while economy class passengers were taken to an “unknown hotel”.
The plane, according to Paul, is “horrible and has been in the Lagos route for six years.
“The plane can’t fly until it is fixed. We have to wait until new plane is brought from France.”
“The annoying thing is that passengers will be taken to the airport by 5pm today for a flight tomorrow morning,” he said.
“Apparently, they don’t want to pay for another night in hotel bills for stranded passengers, so they will go and dump them at the airport from this evening to sleep on chairs till tomorrow morning.”
Putting part of the blame on the regulatory authorities, another passenger who chose not to be named, asked the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the minister of aviation should act.
“Our regulators allow their foreign airlines to treat Nigerians shabbily,” he said.
“They always bring their worst planes to Nigeria where they are making the most money, while they put their new planes on other routes because of standard from those countries.
“You can imagine business people and students inside the plane whose plans have been disrupted for two days, or the elderly or sick people who have medical appointments. It is a shame.”
In July 2018, a similar incident left the airline’s passengers stranded. Senior citizens, women with children, physically challenged individuals and others, who were travelling from Paris to Lagos and Abuja, were left stranded.
Some of the passengers had arrived the Charles De Gualle International Airport some 12 hours before their flight only to be told that the flight had been cancelled.
The airline’s management had pegged the unfortunate incident to “malfunctioning of their plane and lack of aviation fuel”.
A quick search on the airline’s website for a flight to Paris on Friday, revealed that Air Belgium would be the carrier.
Another search revealed that the next available non-stop flight to Paris would be on January 13, also to be operated by Air Belgium but with no available information on the carrier that would operate the return flight.
Other flights are to be operated by KLM with Amsterdam, in the Netherlands as a stopover point.
A Twitter user Lola Talabi-Oni is among many who have in the past voiced displeasure over the state of the airline’s planes and its services.
On December 11, 2018, she tweeted: “What are the chances that @airfrance stops sending those old ancient musty planes for their Nigeria service before the year runs out? Air France…. Please please we are paying customers too! When are your new fit planes coming to Nigeria??????”
What are the chances @airfrance stops sending those old ancient musty planes for their Nigeria service before the year runs out? Air France……please please we are paying customers too! When are your new fit planes coming to Nigeria??????
— Lola Talabi-Oni (@oni_keji) December 11, 2018
Another Twitter user, @nielbellus, complained of poor treatment by Air France staff in Nigeria and the US, after one of his bags allegedly got missing on a flight from New York en route Paris to Nigeria.
“I travelled back to Nigeria on 31st dec 2018 from JFK enroute Paris. One of my bags got missing, till now no staff of Air France in Nigeria (Nigeria manager was so rude) and US. No courtesy whatsoever. I’m proceeding to sue,” he tweeted.
Thanks a lot @SojiOlateru I travelled back to Nigeria on 31st dec 2018 from JFK enroute Paris. One of my bags got missing, till now no staff of Air France in Nigeria (Nigeria manager was so rude)and US. No courtesy whatsoever. I’m proceeding to sue..
— DB (@nielbellus) January 7, 2019
An Air France official simply identified as Ogunseye did not respond to calls and text messages.