Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nigerian airlines

Fani-Kayode seems to be (against expectation) striking the right initial notes on improving the airways here. First he gathered all the owners round and bollocked them. Then, in today's news, came the announcement that five airlines are grounded: IRS, Spaceworld, Fresh Air (yes, there is an airline called that here!) Dasab and Sosoliso. The Punch mentions Nicon Airways (and not IRS), so there's a bit of confusion over who can fly and who cannot.

Needless to say, flying back to Abuja today was a nightmare. I managed to get on a Nicon Airways flight, which was over two hours late. There was an air of desperation about the whole affair. Nicon Airways has two aircraft (FFK has banned airlines with only one plane, and those that fly with bald tires). The one I took was flying in from Owerri, and heading straight to Jos after Abuja.

The flight attendant kept praying over the intercom. At one point, envelopes for 'charity' were passed around. Amazingly, some people gave money (with no guarantee that the money would reach any needy destination). The plane itself looked like it was on its last legs - two of the luggage lockers were minus lids so no luggage could be put there (leading to suitcases all over the place which eventually were put in the hold). I had a seat on the wing. I studied the rust around the screws the other side of the window. The plane seemed very old. The pilot (I think it was he - Captain Kaduna) came on the intercom at one point to deny rumours that the airline had been grounded. Meanwhile, just before I left Lagos, an IRS airline had arrived to take a load of passengers somewhere. As we were landing, another flight officer came on the intercom to announce we had '40,000 metres' visibility at Abuja. As the air was thick with harmattan dust, the true figure can only be a tenth of this.

When we arrived in Abuja, there was the usual chaos. The arrivals hall was filled with huge cardboard boxes (plasma screens and the like). At least two airlines' luggage was mixed up together. I was amazed to get all my luggage back.

With all this chaos just before Christmas, I can't imagine what its going to be like when diasporic Nigerians start to return for their hols in a few weeks' time. FFK has a job on his hands. I almost feel like praying for him!


ijebuman 6:49 pm  

"The flight attendant kept praying over the intercom"

I laughed so hard when i read this. I can just imagine the scenario where instead of explaining the emergency procedure to passengers, the flight attendants start doing praise worship during the flight

Aba Boy 1:20 pm  

Jeremy...tell me you are serious! lol

St Antonym 3:42 pm  

"The flight attendant kept praying over the intercom."

Naija! I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

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