Monday, February 11, 2008

FAJ, VIRGIN NIGERIA


I’m really sorry I’ve not been able to update for a while. A lot of things have been happening at the same time. For those of you that read through the comments on my last post, you would have noticed that one of the Media Personalities that I mentioned in the write up replied to the post. This was none other than FAJ (Femi Akintunde Johnson).
I came in this morning to see that someone had sent in a reply to him. Well, that’s the power of the Internet. I never expected FAJ would get to see my article.
I can state that I have not met FAJ before. I have only heard of his great exploits. Regardless of what others might say, FAJ is a living legend and quite a number of people still know that. Only a few journalists get mentioned on KWAM 1 tapes. FAJ is one of them. I hope he gets the honor he deserves when a Media Hall of Fame is put into place It means a lot to hear that FAJ likes my writing style. Well, I am not a writer and I am not aspiring to be one. I am just a dedicated newspaper reader and a media lover.
I consider myself to be what Nigerian politicians call an “arm-chair critic”.
It wasn’t my plan to write another story about Nigerian airports/airlines. Funny things keep happening to me. A fellow blogger once remarked that I write with a rage. Maybe I do. I think I am just a normal person seeking a normal life in a normal country. I just seek normalcy. That’s not too much to ask of my country.
I had to travel to PortHarcourt sometime last week for some work. I was booked on Virgin Nigeria to fly to Port Harcourt International Airport. The flight was to leave at 7:40 a.m I got to the airport much earlier and checked into the departure lounge of the MMIA. It is instructive to note that FAAN has been having running battles with Virgin Nigeria and Arik Air over their refusal to move to the New Domestic Airport. Much of the departure lounge has been cut into by the Airport Authorities. Agents of FAAN had reduced Virgin Nigeria’s departure lounge to rubble in an attempt to show VN that they meant business.
I took my seat and I waited for the flight call. At about 7:15 pm, Virgin staff announced a delay on their flight to Port Harcourt International Airport due to abnormal weather conditions. A few minutes later, there was a boarding call for a Virgin Nigeria flight to NAF Base in Port Harcourt. NAF Base is used by smaller aircraft (usually 30 seater), while PH International Airport caters to large aircraft. At that point in time, I started wondering what was going on. How could Virgin have rough weather at PH International airport and still be able to fly into NAF Base, which is also in Port Harcourt? The Virgin staff tried to stand logic on its head by telling us that the smaller aircraft can handle lower visibility, while large aircraft are usually affected by turbulence. I sat quietly and my mind kept spinning. I had quality education from Primary school till I graduated from Nigeria’s Premier University. How could someone tell me that a 30 seater aircraft could handle turbulence better than a Boeing 727? The icing on the cake came much later. At about 8:00 am, Arik Air announced a boarding call for a flight to PH International Airport. Virgin Nigeria staff knew their game was up.
Looking around, I discovered that some people had surrounded the Virgin announcer’s desk. Apparently, Virgin Nigeria had not been able to fly to Port Harcourt from the previous evening. They had told the travelers that PH had low visibility. They later changed their story to that of Navigational facilities being poor at PH International Airport. Virgin had been carried over their “Weather tales” from the previous day till the day I was to travel. From nowhere, a Virgin Manager appeared and announced that the Weather had improved considerably but they had problems getting Aviation fuel. He said we could get a refund and exercise other Options to get to Port Harcourt. Some passengers totally lost their cool and were going to start manhandling the manager. I actually heard one of them tell the Virgin Manager that he was going to “catch fire” if he opened up his mouth to utter another lie. Shortly after, a senior manager arrived to tell us that they had problems getting aviation fuel but they were waiting for an aircraft to arrive from Abuja to convey us to PH.
I remember looking into the eyes of the young lady at the Virgin desk. She couldn’t sustain her gaze, as her eyeballs kept darting up and down making her look guilty. I felt pity for her. She was a decent individual who seemed caught in the indecent practices of a corporate entity. She didn’t seem cut out for the falsehood that emanated from her mouth.

I sat back on the metal benches and fell into depression. I started wondering – Why couldn’t Virgin Nigeria simply tell us that there was no aviation fuel? Why did they have to keep lying about the weather? Are Nigerians so daft and uneducated that you expect them to believe fables? Is the concept of Corporate Ethics and behavior totally alien to Multinationals working in this country. Is it possible for the Virgin brand to be associated with deceit in Europe or the Americas? Why? Why?
Why did they keep selling tickets when they knew they couldn’t fly? Why are there no consumer rights in Nigeria?
It is standard practice at the domestic airport for local airlines to announce disruptions due to weather and refuse to sell tickets for such flight. How could I convince anyone that Bellview, Chachangi, Capital and Associated airlines are more honest than Virgin Nigeria could ever be?
I suspect strongly that this is one of the major reasons why Virgin Nigeria has refused to leave the International Airport for the New Domestic one. Their game of deceit and falsehood would be impossible to sustain if they move in with their peers. How would you tell tall stories when Aero Contractors and Bellview are right beside you?
Do these people have any Integrity? Someone beside me at the airport said – “In Nigeria Integrity is not about following the rules and doing the right things. Integrity is about being able to afford a good life for your family and being able to build a house for your father-in-law”

At about 12 noon, our flight took off. It was almost 5 hours behind schedule for me. For others, it was 20 hours behind schedule.
On my return trip to Lagos, I recounted the story to the person that sat next to me. He told me of a startling discovery which he made on his Virgin Nigeria flight to PortHarcourt -As he sat down, he discovered a piece of cloth on his seat. Lo and behold, it was female underwear.

11 comments:

For the love of me said...

Lol at the last statement, female underwear? Was the plane not cleaned before the next flight?
Frankly it bothers me why people fly Virgin Nigeria particularly on the local route, they are very shoddy people, my sis once paid double the fare cos she needed to get to Abuja urgently, and that was the only flight available, and according to them , the only seat they had left was a 20k seat, she thought it would be some sort of special seat but alas, it was same old, no difference from others, so why did they make her pay more? looks like what bus conductors do, when there is heavy human traffic and few buses. I think Virgin Nigeria is just another molue.I will quickly vote Bellview as the best Nigerian airline.As for Aero, their girls too dey frown.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

What is going on on Richard branson's planes? I keep hearing horror stories about fling in Nigeria. That is just too bad.

Take care!

1stpet2v9 said...

this is partly why i could not go 2 abj past xmas.. fear of flying within 9ja... ts sad buddie....

Hopefully things change quickly

DiAmOnD hawk said...

so perhaps the delay wasnt really the aviation fuel huh? lol

1stpet2v9 said...

ahn ahn.. update now?

Comrade said...

@for the love of me
I confronted a Virgin staff friend of mine on this issue. I was once on my way to Lagos from Owerri and the seat prices kept jumping up by 2k every 10 mins at the Virgin counter. My friend told me, it was called "Profit Maximization".

@ solomosydelle

I really don't know if Richard Branson knows what is going on. Virgin Nigeria is just a 49%/51% partnership b/w local investors and Virgin Worldwide

@scribe

You should have gone to Abuja o. Nothing dey happen. God is in control as they say. I wonder where God went to at the last Nations Cup in Ghana

@ diamond hawk

Thanks for stopping by. My point is that these folks cannot be trusted. Liews flow out of their mouths like saliva

@ scribe
I will update. You know I have to do some research for some of my posts. I really don't do "I woke up under my bed" kinda posts.
I'll be back.

el~correcta said...

i'm not a frequent traveller.but recently i can't but take notice of all the dust being raised on account of the incompetence on the part of these private multinationals coming into the country to do business vis-a-vis Virgin Nigeria.
i have this conception of these foreign companies:that they are finally coming into the country to elevate us from the rot in all sectors of our ailing economy.that we are finally going to get some world class service,which we dully deserve.that they have come to our rescue. well,i'll have to add a table spoonfull of salt to that perception cos the truth is that they basically abuse their presence here and insult our intelligence.
let them all know that we are not stupid and that we know what obtains in any part of the world. let them know this. Period!

the next time i'm travelling by air.i'll be sure to check my seat for draws before i sit and it most probably won't be by our national carrier thankyou

Omo Alagbede said...

See all of u, ajebo people... una nor dey shame! don't you know it is a privilege to be able to complain about airlines... do you know the millions of Nigerians out there who'd love to be humiliated and delayed by Virgin, but have not got the means... but instead have to fly to Abuja by night, BY BUS, past "arm robbers" and broken down trailers...
Count yourselve lucky, you damned ingrates!!!

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