*6.30pm flight left at 1:30am following day
Pilot and passengers on board a Medview airline on the Abuja to Ilorin flight early Wednesday morning narrowly escaped a crash. Reasons adduced: delay, bad weather and poor navigational equipment at the Ilorin International Airport.
The flight with registration number VL 2122 (HK) was originally scheduled to depart Abuja at 6.30 pm on Tuesday to arrive Ilorin at 7.10 pm. Passengers on the service were, however, informed early enough by the airline of the rescheduling of the flight via SMS and e-mail.
The message read: “Dear valued customer, your flight Vl2122 from Abuja to Ilorin today, Dec.19, 2017 has been rescheduled to depart by 9:15 pm due to operational reasons. We sincerely regret all inconveniences. Kindly contact us on 07082543952, 08183851135, 08066697400. Thank you’’.
As at 9pm, after passengers were checked in and waiting at the local departure hall of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, it was announced that the flight had been further delayed for one hour 30 minutes.
The announcement did not go down well with many of the passengers who went to the departure counter to express their displeasure in very harsh tones.
They were told that the flight which was coming into Abuja from Lagos for departure to Ilorin was delayed due to operational reasons.
The passengers who were patiently waiting for a new boarding time of 10.45 pm, got a rude shock when it was again announced that the flight had been again delayed by one hour.
However, there was a little bit of respite when at about 10.05pm, it was announced that a Medview airplane from Lagos arrived at the Abuja Airport.
The passengers who were rest assured of departure because of the aircraft on ground were again, disappointed when another announcement came that the flight was delayed for another one hour owing to bad weather in Ilorin.
Upon inquiry at the departure counter, the passengers were told that it was raining in Ilorin.
At about 11 pm, the airline offered a cheap and paltry free snacks containing a small N50.00 pack of juice, biscuit and cake to the waiting passengers
In the course of the delay, some passengers who could not bear the harrowing experience had to return to their homes.
One of the passengers who left for home in anger expressed disappointment for missing a crucial event in Ilorin, the purpose for which the flight was booked.
The flight finally took off at about 1.33 am and the Pilot, Captain George Francis announced 40 minutes flying time to Ilorin.
Shortly after take off, the flight became bumpy with a lot of pitches, a sudden movement which made the aircraft to be moving up and down. In Ilorin, the navigational instruments stopped working minutes before landing forcing the pilot to use ingenuity to land the craft all the same.
While taxiing, the pilot called the attention of the passengers, particularly those on window seats to the lightings on the runway.
He told them: “for those of you at the window, you will notice that the lighting on the runway by the left wing of the aircraft are working while those by the right wing are off.
“This happened some few minutes when we were descending. This could be dangerous because it is still raining here in Ilorin. We also have thunderstorm in Lagos, Abuja and Ilorin axis.
“Most of the navigational equipment in Ilorin are not functioning.’’