Some United Kingdom-bound passengers from Nigeria via Turkish Airlines have been stranded at the Istanbul airport, protesting over what they described as poor service delivery after they have been delayed for over 24 hours due to heavy snowfall at the Istanbul Airport, Turkey.
The passengers, who spoke with Nairametrics over the telephone had protested in the airport’s departure hall demanding accommodation and quality customer service delivery from the management of Turkish Airlines.
According to some of them, who left Nigeria via the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport on Tuesday around 7:15am, several passengers from other African countries that got to Istanbul hours before them were still stranded, protesting over what they described as poor service delivery on the part of the airline.
Tolu Elijah, a UK-bound Nigerian passenger of Turkish Airlines, lamented over the rowdy scene he met when he entered the facility on Tuesday evening and the slow pace at which the airline was attending to the stranded passengers.
He said, “We understand that there is heavy snowfall that is affecting flight operations because my flight, which was supposed to leave Abuja on Monday by 10pm was delayed till 7:15am on Tuesday and we were adequately taken care of in Abuja.
“But the situation was terrible in Istanbul, as it appeared that the management here is laid back. We know there will be difficulties moving people out of the airport due to the heavy snowfall but the airline ought to have made adequate arrangements before the passengers arrived because they already have the data with them.
“When people are stranded beyond a reasonable time, they are bound to protest or fight back. The airline should have ensured better and faster accommodation arrangements were made to avoid such an embarrassing scenario. They are still battling with passengers that arrived before us and that has dashed my hope that they will attend to us soon. At the age and time, how can we sleep on the floor with my wife.”
Another UK-bound Nigerian passenger, who prefered anonymity, explained that he had been stranded at the airport for over 6 hours, as she could not connect to the UK due to the bad weather.
She said, “My flight is tomorrow by 8am and we have been told we have to sleep at the airport and probably on the floor. All efforts to get accommodation at the hotel in the airport were fruitless, as we were told they are all fully booked.
“If this happened at home, I may not be surprised but not in a nation that is believed to be better developed than Nigeria.
“Passengers had protested here that we need hotel, marched through the hall, near the duty-free shop and luxury stores. Some of whom said they had been stranded in the facility for more than a day with no help from staff and no provision of food or water.”
According to a statement issued by the airline on Tuesday, which was published on its site, the development at the airport was caused by severe weather conditions.
It stated, “Dear passengers, due to severe weather conditions in Istanbul, in accordance with the decisions of the authorities and for the safety of our passengers, our flights departing from Istanbul Airport will be able to operate in limited numbers using a runway that is made ready for flight operations.
Flight cancellations in accordance with the decisions of the authorities to restrict the number of flights are also experienced for flights departing from the Sabiha Gokcen Airport. To check the current flight status of your flights from/to/via Istanbul and Sabiha Gokcen airports and find out about your rights regarding your flights, please visit the flight status page and enter your flight number.”
What you should know about the delay
There has been a heavy snow, which covered Istanbul since Sunday evening, snarling roads and briefly halting ship traffic through the Bosporus.
As at Tuesday, local authorities had banned private cars from roads and told public servants to stay home.
According to media reports, officials at Istanbul Airport, which is one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vaunted megaprojects, had announced on Monday evening that flights would be suspended until early Wednesday morning due to “adverse weather and heavy snowfall.”
He said, “The roof of a temporary cargo building used by Turkish Airlines collapsed because of the snow accumulation Monday but caused no injuries.
“The suspension of flights was later extended until midnight Wednesday, as crews worked to clear what the airport said was 16 inches of accumulated snow on the runways and other parts of the airport using nearly 200 snow removal vehicles.”
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