Published on Friday, December 29, 2017

Hundreds left stranded as aircraft grounded at Gatwick 'for forseeable future'

Hundreds of passengers who were left stranded in London and Nigeria over Christmas due to their flights being grounded at Gatwick have been told their airline is unlikely to resume its service before next year.

Around 800 passengers were stranded in London on December 22 when a Med-View flight was forced to return to Gatwick due to a technical fault.

Up to 700 passengers waiting for the return flight to London on December 24 were stranded in the Nigerian city of Lagos.

Gatwick Airport has since told passengers that Med-View is unlikely to resume flights from London 'for the foreseeable future'.

Med-View organised two relief flights from Gatwick to Lagos on December 27 but its UK manager Michael Ajigbotosho claimed that a third relief flight was unable to operate due to the unruly behaviour of some passengers, which meant Border Force had to intervene.

A Gatwick Airport spokesman said no passenger behaviour prevented Med-View flights from operating from the London airport, but passengers in Lagos are reported to have caused disruption at check-in desks at Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

News reports claimed some passengers marched to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Consumer Protection Directorate yesterday morning to complain about the failure of the airline to airlift them to their destinations as scheduled.

In a statement, Med-View, which was previously blacklisted by the EU, said: "Our flight VL 2101 out of London to Lagos on December 22 which has about 300 passengers on board returned back to Gatwick after departure as a precautionary measure taken by the Pilot- in -Command  in line with Aviation Standard and Recommended Practices.

"This led to cancellation of the flight as the aircraft was declared AOG (Aircraft On Ground). The passengers were catered for, they were lodged in a hotel and those who decided to go back home were also taken care of.

"After the aircraft was declared AOG, we had to wait for a maintenance report. The aircraft had to remain on ground until a certified expert carried out the necessary checks and certify that the aircraft is airworthy. And the holiday compounded the problem.

"In line with that confirmation, we decided to seek a relief flight and tried as much as possible to get the approval from both the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Nigeria and the CAA of United Kingdom in Gatwick. We attest to their full cooperation and we appreciate them.

"We announced to operate three flights feeling the concern of all our passengers. On December 27, we positioned three aircraft after securing the approval of the CAA including Nigerian authority.

"Disappointingly, due to the unruly behaviour of some Nigerian passengers, the Border Force had to intervene to support the operations for crowd control purposes.

"These three aeroplanes would have evacuated 700 passengers which would have normalised the situation. But the passengers neither understood nor knew the challenges ahead which resorted to having a delayed operation and crew rest and we ended up operating two flights out of three."

The airline appealed to its Nigerian customers, expressing appreciation for their patronage and apologised for the experience they went through this Christmas.

"We seek their understanding to know that their safety comes first before any other thing. We feel their concern and the expectations of meeting their families for the Christmas holiday," the statement added.

Gatwick Airport said that today's flight from London would not operate.

In a statement, it said: "At this stage, Gatwick is not able to provide any further information on future Med-View flights planned between now and the end of the year."

It has suggested passengers leave the airport and make alternative travel plans or attempt to rebook flights with Med-View. It said only about 10 passengers remained at Gatwick.



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