More than 600 passengers travelling to Nigeria from various destinations are now stranded in Addis Ababa following the cancellation of Ethiopian Airlines flights to Abuja and Lagos since Tuesday.
The correspondent in Addis Ababa reports that the cancellation of all flights to Nigeria was as a result of the ongoing nationwide strike against the removal of oil subsidy embarked by the NLC and the TUC.
Passengers were on transit to Nigeria through Addis Ababa from China, Dubai and India among other countries.
Those stranded include men, women and children back from business and medical trips as well as some Nigerian students studying abroad.
Some of the stranded passengers said at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa on Wednesday that they have been in Addis Ababa since Monday.
They expressed displeasure with the cancellation and many of them complained that they do not have money on them.
“We have been here since Monday, the airline is paying for our accommodation and feeding as provided by our contract with the airline, but we are tired of staying here’’, Mr Moses Aku, one of the passengers said.”
Sen. Hadi Sirika (CPC-Katsina), who was among the stranded passengers, said he was making efforts to re-route his flight and return to Nigeria as soon as possible.
They appealed to the Nigerian embassy to come to their aid as most of them have spent their money before departure.
Efforts to speak to Mrs Wogayehu Terefe, spokesman of Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa was abortive as she did not respond to calls and text messages sent to her.
However, an official of the airline said, the airline decided to cancel its flights to Nigeria because there were no handlers at the airports to attend to the aircraft on arrival.
The official said on Monday one of its aircraft that landed in Lagos was left unattended for more than seven hours because of the strike.
“It is not in our interest to keep the passengers here because it is economically unwise to keep hundreds of people for many days and taking care of their hotel bills and feeding,” the official, who pleaded anonymity, said.
Mr Bulus Lolo, Nigeria’s ambassador to Ethiopia said the embassy would assist the stranded Nigerians.