The first batch of 270 of the 700 Nigerians in the US who registered for emergency evacuation on account of the coronavirus pandemic will arrive on Sunday.
A notice by the Nigerian Consulate in New York informed the intending passengers on Wednesday that the Ethiopian Airline flight ET8509 would depart Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey, by 7.15 PM and arrive at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Sunday by 11.15 AM.
It said, “This new arrangement replaces Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 509, which was earlier scheduled for May 10. However, those already booked on ET 509 will now be transferred by the airline to the new flight ET 8509 on Saturday, May 9, 2020.”
The Consulate advised intending returnees to pay for their one-way economy class tickets through the airline’s website.
“Please, note that only 270 passengers shall be accommodated in this evacuation batch. Missions will, therefore, attend to applicants on a ‘first-come, first-served basis’ and shall prioritise the list of evacuees according to their immigration status,” the consulate explained.
Some of the intending passengers, however, complained about the exorbitant charges by the Ethiopian Airlines, describing it as a rip-off.
It was learnt the airline hiked the fare without any warning, forcing many to cough out extra $204.
A medical doctor stated, “We received a mail from the Nigerian Embassy on May 4 asking us to book on Ethiopian airlines website at the cost of between $1,300 and $1,700. The flight was supposed to be ET 509 but only flight ET 501 was available. Now, the flight and the date have changed and the fare is now $1,904. This is very exorbitant and exploitative.”