At least 150 passengers were, Wednesday, stranded at the Uyo Airport, Akwa Ibom State, when the Arik flight that was supposed to airlift them to Lagos could not land because the runway lighting was off due to power outage.
A similar incident had happened few months ago, when the runway lighting and the runway lights went off as an Arik flight was to land, forcing the flight to divert to Abuja.
One of the passengers, Mr. Festus Akanbi of THISDAY Newspapers, said the aircraft had rescheduled the flight three times from 12:55p.m. to 3:55p.m. and finally to 5:55 p.m., but when the aircraft took off from Lagos and arrived the Uyo airspace there was power outage and the runway lights went off, forcing the aircraft to gain altitude.
An official of the airline later informed the passengers that due to low fuel in the aircraft, the pilot decided to divert the flight to Port Harcourt to refuel and return to Uyo to pick up the passengers.
“Five minutes to the arrival of the Arik flight from Lagos, the airport was plunged into darkness for 30 minutes. Nobody came to explain what happened but we understood the airport had problem with its generators,” Akanbi said, noting that passengers had to wait for over seven hours.
According to him, the Arik official who assured the passengers that the flight was diverted to Port Harcourt, promised that it would return to Uyo airport in 30 minutes, but more than one hour passed without any sign of the aircraft.
“An Arik official came to explain that the pilot had to divert the plane to Port Harcourt to refuel. He said we should expect the flight in 30 minutes, by 8:00p.m but the aircraft did not arrive as promised.
“Later a senior official of the airline was contacted in Lagos who explained that what caused the delay was that the aircraft designated to airlift passengers from Uyo had bird strike which disorganised the flight schedule, so another aircraft had to be deployed to fly to Uyo,” Akanbi said.