‘Our ordeals in the hands of United Nigeria Airlines’ -Abuja bound passengers who landed in Asaba laments

Some passengers who boarded a plane from the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Ikeja, Lagos have recounted their ordeals after the plane which was meant to carry the passengers to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, landed at the Asaba Airport in Delta State.

The incident which happened on Sunday threw many passengers into confusion as some of them said upon landing at the Asaba airport, the crew still announced to them that they had arrived at Abuja.

One of the passengers, who gave her name simply as Thelma, said she thought she was dreaming and had to take pictures of the airport as evidence.

In an interview with PUNCH Metro late Sunday, Thelma said the pilot of the United Airlines flight apologised to passengers that he got the wrong flight plan.

Thelma said, โ€œWe were surprised and shocked, especially when one of the crew members announced that we had arrived in Abuja. Some of the passengers had walked towards the front to know what was happ13ening. Some even wondered if the plane had been hijacked. We were there for about 15 minutes when the pilot said he got the wrong flight plan. He said we would fly to Abuja shortly.โ€

Thelma said when the flight took off in Lagos, she suspected that it might be going the wrong route because โ€œit was flying by the coastlineโ€ which she noted was unusual.

โ€œIt was making sense until I found out that we were in Asaba,โ€ she added.

A Kano politician, Dawisu Yakasai, who was also on the plane, said it was obvious the pilot was given the wrong plan from Lagos.

โ€œNigeria my country. We departed Lagos about an hour ago on @flyunitedng to Abuja, and upon arrival, the cabin crew confidently announced that weโ€™d arrived Abuja, only for us to realise that we landed in Asaba. Apparently, our pilot was given the wrong flight plan from Lagos,โ€ Dawisu wrote on his X handle, @Dawisu.

Other passengers who were also on the flight took to social media to narrate their experiences with some sharing videos and pictures of when they were on the flight.

Thelma who had earlier posted about the incident on X via @Tesidorth, later told PUNCH Metro that the plane eventually left for Abuja and they got there later in the evening.

But reacting in a statement signed by its head, Corporate Communications, Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu, on Sunday night, the United Nigeria Airlines said its flight, NUA 0504, operating from Lagos en route Abuja on Sunday was โ€œtemporarily diverted to the Asaba International Airport due to poor destination weather.โ€

The airline said the pilot was at all material times aware of the diversion and was properly briefed.

โ€œHowever, a wrong announcement was made by the cabin crew upon landing safely in Asaba, creating confusion among the passengers,โ€ the statement partly read.

In another development, however, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, on Monday, summoned heads of aviation regulatory agencies over safety concerns in the sector.

The minister said a thorough assessment of recent incidents would be carried out during the meeting.

โ€œDue to safety concerns in the aviation sector expressed by members of the public, I have summoned the heads of the regulatory agencies to my office later today to review the incidents that are the causes of these concerns and to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to forestall future occurrence and to apply sanctions, where necessary, regarding the past incidents,โ€ he tweeted on X.

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