Royal Air Maroc got more than they bargained today at Casablanca Airport!
Nigerians brought the airport to a standstill, flights were disrupted and other travelling passengers could not fly.
Royal Air Maroc treated Nigerian passengers with contempt. Over 170 Nigerian passengers were left stranded for more than 13 hours without a flight to Lagos. The flight was scheduled to depart 10.35pm on Wednesday, August 2.
The airline as at 6am Thursday morning failed to provide hotel accommodation, did not provide food and water for children and mother, they did not bother to communicate or apologise for the delay.
The airline was counting on the usual docile nature of Nigerians and their poor capacity to fight for their rights. The airline got it very wrong this time.
The Nigerian passengers mobilised, stormed the Air Maroc Office around 6am demanding a plane to take us to Lagos, their staff responded by offering to take us on a 10pm flight (24 hours delay). We told them we need a plane immediately but they ignored the demand.
Some of the passengers them stormed the boarding gate of an Air Maroc flight to Tunisia, stopped the passengers from checking in. Air Maroc responded by inviting the local police to deal with us. The local police refused to intervene as we were not violent and was conducting our protest peacefully.
At this point Air Maroc offered to put us in hotel accommodation till the 10pm flight. Too little too late was our response. We the passengers were resolute in our demand for a plane to take us to Lagos immediately.
We contacted the Nigerian Ambassador to Morocco, who promised to join us at the airport.
We continued our peaceful protest disrupting all Air Maroc flight checking in. We then targeted the Paris flight which was their “Jewel in the Crown” daily flight. The Paris bound passengers were agitated at our actions, they were taking Facebook photos and making it go viral.
The Police, Airport Security, Other Passengers, Nigerian lady passengers mounted unprecedented pressure. I understand the Nigerian Ambassador was also using the diplomatic channels to lodge a protest.
At this point, Royal Air Maroc relented and took our complaints seriously. We were delighted around 10am when Royal Air Maroc announced that a plane has been found and we will be boarding at 12 noon. The airline also issued a certificate of flight delay as evidence to present if we need to seek compensation.
We the passengers were so joyous at the protest outcome. The main reasons for the positive outcome is that we the majority of the passengers cooperated, there was no tribalism, we were proud to say we are Nigerians and would not seat and accept such injustices. We were strategic and disciplined in our protest, our woman and children were deployed as emotional tools that cannot be ignored.
The Nigerian Ambassador played a responsible role by travelling immediately from Rabat to Casablanca (2 hours journey) to be with his fellow citizens at their point of need. We are proud of the Ambassador.
On deep reflection, I only wish my fellow citizens always assert their rights appropriately either in Nigeria or Abroad, the current sorry state of affairs we find ourselves in as a people will be a thing of the past. A United Nigeria is greater than the sum of the individual tribes!
We are now 3 hours into the journey, the flight departed promptly at 12 noon. I hope Royal Air Maroc have learnt their lesson!