Ethiopian Airlines ran a repatriation flight this weekend from Houston to Lagos, Nigeria. There were more people who showed up at the airport than seats. The $1500 one-way flight had a waiting list, and numerous people were looking to get on.
Nigerian officials delayed the flight for more than six hours. Passengers boarded, but officials needed to sort out who was going to fly. And as the delay went on and on, and some passengers decided to get off the flight, that meant even more seats available to sell, at a markup of course.
Officials were selling seats on the flight for $1750, and according to Nigerian media, pocketing the difference.
Ethiopian airways- Houston to Nigeria has keep people on board the aircraft for 6 hours without an explanation! 15/08/20 #evacuationflight
— amofa.o (@OkoliAfoma) August 16, 2020
Live and Let’s Fly reports that Ethiopian has been contracted by Nigeria to operate these flights on roughly a bi-weekly basis and have been a lucrative income supplement for local Nigerian officials in charge of the flight. Sunday’s flight either had more no shows to allocate, or stand by passengers less willing to pony up their asking price, because the “Idumota Market”-style negotiations took hours while passengers waited on board with no air conditioning.
Spending 6 extra hours on a cramped Ethiopian Airlines flight during the Covid era, parked at the gate, seems less than ideal from a virus spread perspective. However a negative PCR request is required on arrival after a repatriation flight, so presumably symptomatic patients at least won’t travel. On the other hand, since that test can reportedly be skipped for $600, maybe it’s not such a strong deterrent.