By Louis Ibah
As the harmattan haze blowing across Nigeria continues to prevent numerous flights at airports from taking off as scheduled, domestic airline operators are lamenting the absence of adequate security measures to forestall aggrieved passengers from venting their anger on the ground staff during such moments.
The operators decry a situation where over the years, the lack of security at airports to check mate unruly passengers, have left them at the mercy of those passengers who abuse their staff and also prevent other passengers and flights heading to different destinations from boarding or taking-off.
An airline official told aviation correspondents yesterday that since Saturday, the harmattan haze has reduced visibility to many airports in the southern part of the country, which witness passenger surge during the Christmas festivities.
He, particularly lamented how, Enugu and Owerri passengers have been extremely unruly and uncontrollably violent that some of the travellers in their midst were miffed by their excessive reactions.
An affected passenger, Mrs. Rose Waziri, told reporters that her Lagos-Abuja flight on Air Peace airline was prevented from boarding by Enugu-bound passengers, who barricaded the boarding gate for hours.
Another affected passengers, Mr. Peter Akpesiri, claimed he was prevented from boarding his Abuja-Lagos flight for hours by those travelling to Owerri, who claimed their flight was delayed.
Corporate Communications Manager of Air Peace, Mr. Chris Iwarah, confirmed the Lagos and Abuja incidents, describing them as unfortunate.
He explained that the Enugu and Owerri flights were delayed because of weather and technical challenges, insisting that Air Peace would only operate a flight when it would not endanger the lives of its guests and crew in line with its uncompromising stand on safety.
His words: “While other passengers flying to other destinations would readily cooperate with airlines in difficult moments, it has not been the same with Enugu and Owerri passengers this year. During this period, passengers on the Enugu and Owerri routes travel with a lot of luggage, some with as many as 20 suitcases each! At the check-in counters, such owners would take over 30 minutes of our check-in time arguing on why they must not pay for excess luggage, citing how they travelled from Atlanta with those suitcases without paying a dime.