Passengers blast Air Namibia

The national airline remains in the news for all the wrong reasons this week – this time for getting heavy handed with passengers who complained about a nine-hour delay.

21 December 2018 | Transport

ELLANIE SMIT

Angry Air Namibia passengers have taken to social media to expose flight delays of more than nine hours and shabby treatment by cabin crew.

Following Monday’s embarrassing incident in which four Air Namibia’s crew members were too intoxicated to fly an aircraft from Johannesburg to Windhoek, passengers on Air Namibia flight SW728 had to endure a flight delay of several hours on Tuesday.

The flight, which was scheduled to depart Johannesburg for Windhoek at 11:20, only took off at 21:00, according to passengers.

Police officers were eventually called in to calm down the unruly passengers.

Three passengers, whom the crew described as a threat, were removed from the aircraft.

According to one of the passengers, Oluwademilade Fayemiwo, she was removed because people were expressing their displeasure about how they were treated.

She posted their entire ordeal on Facebook and also tweeted regular updates about the delayed flight.

“The police came on board and two guys were handpicked, even though almost everyone had expressed their anger.

“While this was going on, I started speaking to one of the cabin crew members named Xavier. In the calmest tone I could muster, I told him their attitude was just wrong.

"Guess what? He told the police to take me off the plane! [He] said I was inciting violence! The police took me off the plane with the two men, [and] said they were trying to calm the situation, but it was up to the crew to decide if we would be let on board again,” Fayemiwo said.

According to her, by that time it was 20:30, while the flight was supposed to have taken off at 11:20.

“I said nothing to the police; I simply stood there like a statue. Eventually, the head of the cabin crew came to the police to tell them I did nothing wrong, so they should let me go,” Fayemiwo added.

The flight eventually took off at 21:00.

During the wait, passengers complained about not being informed about the cause of the delay and it was apparently only after further uproar that the crew eventually brought water on board for the children on the flight.

Air Namibia spokesperson Paul Nakawa said airport staff are mandated to make announcements from time to time, in order to keep passengers informed about their flights.

“If this was not done; then it’s very unfortunate from the colleagues who were on duty, but we will look at the reports.”

Nakawa said a media release was issued on Tuesday to apologise to the flying public and affected passengers inconvenienced by delays.

According to Nakawa the flight in question was delayed for only two hours and 17 minutes.

“I must make it clear that this very flight was supposed to leave Johannesburg at 11:20, but it was cancelled due to various reasons. One of the reasons was that the flight had already arrived in Johannesburg an hour late, but it had time to turn around.”

Nakawa said one passenger checked in luggage but never showed up for boarding.

“As per procedures, we cannot release an aircraft to the skies without all the passengers who have checked in, so this led to having to search for the checked-in luggage for an absent passenger, in order (for it) to be offloaded from the aircraft.”

Another reason for the delay was that the A319 aircraft sent from Windhoek to pick up the Johannesburg passengers had to undergo a four-to five-hour maintenance inspection.

“If a delay is expected for hours, passengers will be served with snacks and refreshments at the expense of the airline, while waiting for their departure time to be announced,” said Nakawa.

He said as per the security manual, the decision on whether or not to fly passengers rests with the captain.

“If the cabin controller decided to carry the passenger, the captain may overrule the recommendation where he/she considers the risks involved are unacceptable.”

The security manual further stipulates that the police should be called whenever a passenger’s behaviour is beyond the control of airline staff or their actions are outside the law.

Brendan Dawson posted on Facebook that over the past two weeks, four Air Namibia flights he had been on had been delayed.

“Every flight has been delayed for some or other reason, including not arranging a co-pilot, and other personnel problems it would seem. A very poor performance, I am very disappointed! I have lost so much time because of your delays these past few weeks - including spending six hours at the airport on Monday,” Dawson wrote.

Marlize Rautenbach wrote on 15 December that she had been in Johannesburg for 23 hours but her luggage had not yet arrived.

“Half of the passengers did not receive their luggage and it should have arrived this morning. Every time I phone, the answer I get is 'the flight is delayed' and now they still can't give me a straight answer as to what time I can expect my luggage... RIDICULOUS!!!!!!” she wrote on social media.

Elmarie Wilkinson’s honeymoon was ruined when Air Namibia cancelled her and her husband’s flight to Johannesburg, costing them two nights’ stay in Mauritius.

“This was the only way you helped us, flying to Frankfurt during the night (we don't have visas, so we'll be stuck at the airport for the whole day!!). Now our honeymoon will consist of two full days only waiting on airports and flying at night. And we will eventually spend only four nights in Mauritius!” she wrote.

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