A professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Port Harcourt, Prof AbdurRazaq Kilani has recounted how he missed an important presentation in Lagos due to a sudden flight reschedule by Arik Air.
Muslim News gathered that Kilani had been slated to review a new book, titled; Islam and Modern Vices: Issues and Concerns in the News written by a columnist with the Daily Independent newspaper, Mr. Rasheed Abubakar.
The much publicised book launch held on Saturday, December 1 at the Islamic Centre, University of Lagos, and featured top Islamic scholars, media practitioners, captains of industry and Muslim students.
But Kilani, who had arrived the Port Harcourt airport as early as 8am on Saturday was shocked when Arik airline suddenly announced that the flight has been shifted from 9am to 12 noon.
According to the professor, who is also the Chief Imam of a popular Islamic group, Al-Usrah, the arrangement to be a reviewer of the book written by the young and dynamic journalist, Rasheed Abubakar was sealed many weeks before the actual date for the review.
He said: “We made all arrangements humanly possible to make the event a successful one. I had done my review and gotten ready for the day, Saturday, December 1.
“An Arik Air ticket was booked for me for 9am on the day, hoping to be in Lagos insha Allah by 10am. The organiser already made arrangements for a car to pick me at the airport. I arrived at the airport at 8am, only to be told that the flight had been delayed till 12 noon.
“The information shocked me to the marrow, as there was no prior knowledge either through mail or message to my phone. All efforts to convince the staff of Arik Air fell on deaf ears”, he stated.
It was also revealed that the Arik Air stand was full of stranded passengers who had also bought tickets. Many of them were seen lamenting over the sudden delay without prior notice.
The flight, Muslim News reliably gathered, did not take off by 12 noon as promised by the airline. Instead, it took off at 1:30pm and arrived Lagos by 2pm, about 30 minutes after the end of the programme.
Kilani said: “It was disappointing because a well planned arrangement was aborted and I was sure the 12 noon was a mere promise, as such experience is not uncommon with many airlines in Nigeria.
“The flight, which was delayed till 12 noon, arrived Port-Harcourt airport by 12:30 and commenced boarding. The crew members apologized profusely and we were told the plane just came from Dakar and that was responsible for the delay.
“We finally took off by 1:45pm and arrived Lagos by 2:30pm. I missed the program that took me to Lagos”, he said.
Kilani called on relevant agencies of the government in the aviation industry to protect passengers against ill treatment by airlines, which has become a norm with many domestic operators in Nigeria.
“We can do better. Time is a bond and it is the essence of life”.
The author of the book, who is also the publisher of Muslim News Nigeria, Mr. Rasheed Abubakar expressed his displeasure over the development.
He said: “It was very unfortunate. I felt terribly sad when Prof told me about the change in his flight schedule. It wasn’t really about the business class ticket we bought; many of our guests and audience came purposely because they saw his name on our promotional poster.
“We recalled the private chauffeur we hired to bring him to the venue from the airport when we realised that the 12 noon promised by the airline wasn’t realistic. At that moment, we quickly made provisions for an alternative. He eventually arrived Lagos 30 minutes after the program ended.
“We are not going to press charges for the damages the change in the flight schedule cost us. It has been destined by Allah, but the airlines need to step up their game. Sudden rescheduling of flights at short notice is embarrassing. It is uncalled for. If there must be a delay, there should have been a prior notification to the passengers”.
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