“We Heard They’re Resuming Business After They Destroyed Ours”, Victims Cry Foul As Dana Returns To Skies

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Dana Air resumed its operations today after being grounded for seven months following the ill-fated crash of one of its airplane which had all 153 people on board killed at Iju-Ishaga, a sub-urban area of Lagos Metropolis..

Its inaugural flight 9J0359 on its MD-83 aircraft took off from the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 in Lagos to Abuja.

By noon, the airline’s ticketing officer was sighted selling tickets to passengers for a 4:20pm flight.

The airline sold one-way ticket to intending passengers heading for Abuja from Lagos at  at N14, 400, a price some passengers referred to as “very cheap”  in comparison with what the other operators charge.

A ticketing officer, who preferred to remain anonymous, told NAN that the fare was aimed at attracting passengers and to appreciate them for the support given to the airline during its trying period. Other airlines charge N24, 800 for a one way Lagos to Abuja trip. Albeit, it could not be ascertained as to how many passengers boarded the flight.

After some hours of pre- flight preparations, the airline closed its ticket counter. Boarding announcement followed and the plane departed.

Most ‘skeptic’ would-be passengers  said they were watching to see how the inaugural flight would go, before deciding on their patronage of the carrier.

Dana’s come-back has now increased the number of domestic airline operating in the country to five. The others are Arik, Aero, IRS and Med-View.

An official of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. James Shallangwa, said yesterday in Abuja that Dana will operate a flight to Lagos from Abuja today.

Mr Tony Usidamen, the Head, Corporate Communications, Dana Air, confirmed the resumption. Mr Kayode Adeniran, the Dana Station Manager at the NAIA, said the airline would have its inaugural flight at 9:45a.m. today from Abuja to Lagos.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) revoked Dana’s operation licence, pending proper investigation into the cause of the crash.

However, mixed reactions have trailed the resumption as victims express their grievances against the treatment meted to them by the airline .

The victims, including widows and young parents with many children, have cried out to both the Federal and Lagos State governments to ensure that what is left of their lives is not shattered.

Those who spoke to The Nation lamented the insincerity with which the airline has treated their case. Spokesman of ‘seriously affected victims’ Chike Okwuosa said he was disappointed that the Federal Government allowed the airline to address their matter with levity.

He said: “My lawyer, Mr. Monday Ubani, told me they have not done anything. He said after several letters to them, they wrote more than two months ago that they needed additional information, which he forwarded to them.”But till now, nothing has been done; instead, we heard they are resuming their business when they have destroyed ours. Is that fair?”Ubani, who spoke to The Nation on the telephone, said he expected the government to ensure that all affected persons were compensated by the airline before returning the licence to the airline.He said: “What Dana is doing is really crazy. They have not paid anything or said anything to the victims. They wrote me two months ago that they wanted additional information, which I immediately provided.”Since then, I have not heard from them. The government should have ensured that they settle all the affected persons before returning their licence to them. But since their licence has been returned even before now, the government should compel them to attend to the aggrieved persons.”They are just trying to tie people down. They killed a lot of people, destroyed so many property and no one seem to be saying anything.”I have tried to avoid litigation, but if by the end of January they are still nonchalant about the plight of those their business are adversely affected, we will have no other option than to go to court.”Pastor Daniel Omuwunmi, who lost over N500 million to the disaster, said the airline, after a series of letters from his counsel – Messrs Dele Adesina and Co., made an offer of $30, 000. Omuwunmi, who spoke through a counsel at the law firm of Olumide Olaiya, told The Nation that the offer was rejected because the airline had not even written to accept or negotiate his claims.He said: “They have not done anything. We never heard from them until the last working week of December when they made an offer of $30, 000 to Pastor Omuwunmi as advance payment.”What are they advancing? All the efforts we made to bring them to the negotiation table were rebuffed. We expected them to reply our letter, or even say what they intend to pay from the claims before them which are verifiable.”$30,000 is less than N5 million. So, a man who lost nothing less than N500 million, what will $30, 000 do for him? He rightly rejected the money. Besides, $30, 000 was the same amount they paid to all on board victims as advance. So, why come to offer a man who lost everything he had $30, 000 without even writing to acknowledge or reject his claims?”They said their insurers are still processing our claims and so, we are also waiting to hear from them.”

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