Scores of international passengers were left stranded at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos as workers of an aviation ground handling company, the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCo Plc) down tools over alleged salary issues.
Delta, Turkish Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Qatar, and Air France-KLM are some of the airlines the company handles. It handles check-in, boarding, and ramp services for many international carriers.
Virgin Atlantic was in a frantic move as of 8.30 am on Monday to prevail on the workers’ union to rescind their action while looking for an amicable resolution to the issue.
Many of Virgin Atlantic’s passengers are students who are returning to schools in the United Kingdom. Many of their parents and guardians in Nigeria and the UK were heard calling their wards in a bid to know the next line of action.
General Sales Agent (GSA) for Virgin Atlantic Airways, Chief John Adebanjo disclosed that the situation had already put its passengers in a panic mode as the airline was optimistic that the situation would be resolved and passengers allowed to board for their 10 am flight.
The passengers had arrived at the international wing of the Lagos airport for their flights. They were oblivious of what awaited them. Many were seen yelling at some NAHco workers for choosing to embark on strike as confusion reigned at the terminal.
A traveller who was caught in the chaos as a result of the crisis told Aviation Metric that NAHCO workers on Monday morning as early as 7 am told passengers that they were on strike and were not ready to work until their demands are met.
One of the passengers who called from the airport expressed frustration at what was happening, saying that they had been left frustrated at the airport with no information from the airline.
There are indications that more airlines could be affected by the problem created by the company.
A source at NAHCO who craved anonymity told our correspondent that the management had met with the staff on Sunday over the proposed strike but assured that the situation will be addressed soon.
Not a few believe that the situation may have caused a lot of financial losses to the company, and airlines and disrupted the travel plans of many passengers.