By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi.
It is with a very heavy heart I put my pen to you, to convey my most sincere best wishes, after rigorous swooches, in my head, contemplating whether to write you or not; so as to brief you of certain developments and messages that are of utmost importance to you, and the rest of your dedicated customers.
It is without any doubt, that Max Air has done considerably well, in plying northern routes mostly abandoned by other airlines.
It is a no brainer to appreciate the fact that those routes are low revenue routes, compared to heavier and more consistent passenger traffic routes coming or going to the South.
Basing your flights up North was not only a decision borne out of a business or revenue drive, but an ‘arewite’ attempt to ameliorate the plight of Northern Nigeria Air Travellers.
Most of our domestic airlines ply the Lagos-Abuja or Lagos Maiduguri, and the Lagos-Kano, or Sokoto-Lagos routes. Abuja-PortHarcourt route is another live route that receives the attention of Airlines.
For Airlines it is strictly business and hardly about any patriotic or regional servitude. Northern Nigeria appreciated you for stepping in, to service the intra-northern routes especially while connecting the northern states to Abuja.
Dear Max, there have been quite a number of misadventures involving your domestic aircraft fleet, and even recently, one of the bigger foreign-route jets conveying pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the 2023 Hajj.
The jet had to detour and return to base due to one problem or the other. There was the case of another jet that had issues with its landing gear and had to lose two or three tyres as it landed.
There are other similar incidences as I keenly listened to observations by passengers at the airport, as they queried one of your operations staff at Kano Airport on the 11th of July, 2023.
In this case, I was one of the passengers of that particular aircraft that was supposed to fly us to Abuja from Kano. Flight was scheduled for 12.50pm. We boarded at about 4.00pm.
Noticeably the aircraft was hot and we assumed that once it began to taxi the runway, the air-conditioning would be better, as most airlines in Nigeria are wont to put off their engines and save fuel, while ‘roasting abi toasting their passengers’.
This particular aircraft’s roasting was beyond the runaway. Even as it starting lifting up, struggling to gain altitude, the air-conditioning still left more to be desired.
I pretend that all was well as the aircraft struggled to gain altitude unsuccessfully. It spread its wings from left to right, gliding up and down, swaying and swerving, ‘sweating’ to reach its desired altitude.
I pretended all was well as it was usual sometimes, to have such challenges especially during the rainy season when weather forecasts aren’t so conducive for air travel.
My friend Sarkin Kasuwa, Alh Nafiu, and I were engrossed in political pep talk, highlighting our contributions to the success of the Asiwaju/ Kashim APC Presidential elections victory.
We exchanged info, contacts and experiences, and how we were hopeful and ready to make meaningful contributions to the new administration Infact, our ‘longer-throat’ went further ahead, to delve into strategies and plans for 2027 and how we would do things a little differently and a lot better.
Meanwhile, Sa’in Daura, another friend who was with us but in a different seat say 3 metres away from us, turned to face us and warned us about what was happening. ‘We are losing altitude’! He exclaimed. Nafiu looked out the window and started praying, inna lillahi wa inna ilaihir raajiuun. I wasn’t to be left out, as I also rapped hasbunallahu waniimal wakeel.
A loud sound came from the right wing of the aircraft and we could also hear the tyres eing released/ opened for landing obviously. We had dilly-dallied upstairs for over 20 minutes and the pilot took us back to Kano Airport. It was scarily so low especially as we returned to Kano, and we could see beneath us all the Bush, Desert and Rocks around.
I was sure we were just going to fall to the ground in a plane crash. The pilot never said a word to us throughout our travails upstairs.
We landed a good landing and the brave pilot finally came on ‘air’ to say there was a problem with the aircraft. I was livid. Yeah right there is a problem and we are back in Kano already!!! The hostesses instructed us to remain calm and seated, and that their engineers would look into the fault and try to repair it if they could.
Me, I had enough and I asked them to open the door and allow us disembark. We are no longer insistent on going to Abuja. Others joined us and everyone disembarked.
It was a very frightening and harrowing experience. There we were making plans for the future, and little did we know that we could have perished and departed this world unceremoniously.
Dear Max Air, I have been informed of the suspension of your operations and I believe it is for the good of the airline and the good of us all. All 120 of us could have died and our families would have been inundated by condolences for a few days and that would have been that.
Who would look after our families? Who would be there for them when we depart this world? We would have died an untimely death and they would have been orphaned and exposed to even harsher realities of the hard times across the country.
A stitch in time saves nine. We switched airlines and boarded AirPeace. My first experience and it was exquisite and almost like an International flight.
The crew were courteous, professional and purposeful. They made us feel relaxed and consoled. The craft was cooler, bigger and exquisite. The in-flight snack we gobbled down with delight.
The weather was bad but the flight was good and stable, and I have vowed to become an AirPeace customer henceforth. We pray that Max will make maximum use of this opportunity to put its act together and resume with the services we used to enjoyed when we started using Max Airlines. We pray that God spares us for our families for as long as they will need us. Amen.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.
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