The operations of domestic airlines were disrupted yesterday as President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Lagos state caused unprecedented traffic jam on Airport Road as well access roads thus making it difficult for passengers to arrive at the airport for boarding on time.
Blueprint observed that as early as 6am, persons who had left their homes earlier sat bumper-to-bumper in the traffic jam that had built up from 7/8 Bus Stop up to the toll plaza leading to the local and international airport terminals.
It was also gathered that some passengers who made it to the airport after spending hours transiting from 7/8 Bus Stop, a distance of two and three kilometers to the international and domestic terminals respectively had to wait until some airlines could fill half capacity of their aircraft before take-off.
A passenger, who called Blueprint on phone, said her 7am flight could not take off until around 11am.
“Ordinarily, I would blame the airline, but today, it is not the fault of any airline. The roads are blocked totally; even commercial motor-cyclists, popularly called okada cannot operate. Those who brave to take you and ride against the traffic charge exorbitantly as if one is trying to escape Armageddon,” she said.
Another passenger who was travelling to Enugu said he had called his business partners to reschedule appointment for next week.
“To convince them that I could not get to the airport on time, I had to get off the car I was travelling in, take pictures of the bumper-to-bumper traffic jam and send to them. They reasoned with me and we agreed to meet again next week. I have not, for once, had it so bad on this road. This presidential visit is one we should pray never to have again,” he said.
Meanwhile, some airlines said they operated some flights as well as sent messages via the social media passengers to give them the situation report so that they would not feel bad when they finally arrived at the airport flights are delayed.
Spokesman for Dana Air, Mr. Kingsley Ezenwa, told Blueprint in an interview that “we have operated some flights and some are delayed as a result of the visit.”
“We actually have up to five flights out of Lagos to Abuja and we have also been chatting with passengers. We have been putting out information on social media and sending messages to our passengers also reassuring them that we are going to accommodate them on our multiple flights out of Lagos to other destinations,” he said.
Spokesman for Air Peace, Mr. Christian Iwarah, said in an interview that the airline sympathise with air travellers some who had to trek long distances to get to the airport terminal while others were stranded at various bus stops without vehicles to board.
He said: “Reports reaching us say most of our guests are trapped in the huge traffic jam caused by the multiple diversions in Lagos. Since Lagos is our base, we had no choice than to consider their challenge.
“Although our crew members are on ground, we are delaying most of the flights to accommodate some of those who are caught in traffic.
“We would have been quite insensitive if we didn’t empathise with our guests and take steps to ameliorate their difficulties. The situation however caused huge disruptions across our network.
“Of course you know Lagos is our hub so you can only imagine how far the disruptions went to disrupt our flights for the day. We deeply regret the challenge for the day.”