April 30, (THEWILL) – It was anger and fiery trade of words between the passengers and officials of Air Peace airline Saturday, as the flight that took off from Lagos to Umuleri Airport, Anambra State, had to beat a return to Lagos, 15 minutes before landing at its Anambra state destination due to power failure.
The pilot reportedly told the passengers that the tarmac and the entire Umuleri Airport was engulfed by darkness at about 6pm on Saturday, which forced the Air Peace Flight P47336, to make a u-turn to Lagos with over 100 passengers on board.
Prime Business Africa reports that some of the angry passengers said the pilot, shortly before landing the 2:05pm delayed flight at about 6pm at the Umuleri Airport, announced that “there was darkness (power failure) at the Tarmac and the entire airport”, which made it impossible to land the aircraft.
The pilot was said to have returned the more than 100 passengers to Lagos, touching the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) 2 tarmac few minutes after 7pm, “for safety reasons.”
A passenger, who described himself as a non-academic staff in one of the universities in Southeast was quoted as saying that the passengers had suspected a foul play in the entire event.
The passengers were ready to cause a commotion at the Lagos airport, especially as disappointed friends and relatives who were waiting to receive them at the Umuleri Airport since 3pm on Saturday, informed them that another flight from Abuja landed at the airport one hour later.
“We suspect foul play here, and we think it all has something to do with economics. A lot of people are stranded here; as at the time we came off the airplane in Lagos, we were told that an Abuja flight was landing in Anambra. Apparently, it would not have been ideal to return to Lagos.
“The pilot told us that there was darkness everywhere and there was no light on the tarmac and no light in the whole airport, saying that their primary concern was the safety of the passengers.” the passenger was quoted as saying.
It could be recalled that Governor of Anambra State, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, only a few days ago, celebrated what was the first official landing of the governor at the airport since he was inaugurated.
The airport project, which was constructed by the immediate past governor, Willie Obiano, at the cost of over $2 billion, was first announced in Obiano’s 2017 budget and commissioned in 2022, shortly before the former governor exited office.
The former governor had said he was investing that much in the airport project to fulfill the promise in his 2017 governorship campaign, that an international airport would bring economic development and increase the income base of Anambra State.
The Umuleri Cargo Airport as launched in 2017 was to be developed on a 1500-acre site to feature two runways, an aviation fuel centre, aircraft maintenance facility, airport hotel, business park and international convention centre.
The project, according to the Anambra State government, is projected to create 1,200 direct and 3,600 indirect jobs. The project was reported to be developed through a public-private sector partnership with Orient Petroleum Resources Refinery and Elite International Investments, who would provide all funds under the Build, Operate, Manage and Transfer (BOMAT) arrangement.