A Nigerian businessman in Sierra Leone, whose travel to Lagos has been postponed three times courtesy of Bellview Airlines’ continous change in schedules, decided to sue the airline management to court after a refund for his ticket was said to be impossible.Before he took the step, he chose to contact the Nigeria High Commission in Freetown (on Siaka Stevens Street) probably the matter could be resolved amicably as ‘Nigerians’ concern’. It was at the High Commission that he discovered that his law suit will amount to nothing because as it stands, he was told Bellview is owing many people and even the Sierra Leone government.
Bitterly, he understood that these are trying times for Bellview and its Ijebu-man owner. It is in the news too that the airline’s operations have been grounded temporarily till mid-November. But observers think that as far as West Africa air shuttle service is concerned, Bellview is gone for ever.
A seemingly hatred has been developed for the airline for the last few months particularly for its monopoly of the route wherein it controls virtually everything that concerns air travel within the west coast to its taste – air fares and exhorbitant cargo charges.
Now, some Nigerians in Sierra Leone think it is payback time for Bellview – they claimed Bellview manipulated Kenya Airways’ flight to Lagos and got it cancelled; they think Bellview worked against the fairly-considerate ADC Airlines to the point that it stopped its usual flights from Nigeria across the region; and that the latest victim, Slok Air, was intimidated ‘spiritually’ to bow out of the competition. Now Slok Air is nowhere.
Why could Bellview be doing these? They said: so as to control the market! But as a one-man business, they say it is impossble to run such a big time project effectively.
One of these barber shop analysts even said that to the best of his understanding, 60% of the profit Bellview has been making in the last few years goes into the pockets of certain individuals within the airline’s ‘cabal’ in Freetown. I don’t know how he got that information but he seems pretty sure of what he said.
Throughout this week, stranded passengers have been trooping in and out of the airline’s Lightfoot Boston Street office to seek refund for their tickets but to no avail. They even resorted to beating some of the staff before the service of two policemen were sought for ‘protection.’
Such a protection will not last for long, I’m sure of that.
With the look of things, Bellview seems to have a lot to pay which points to the fact that the airline may not return to Freetown again…by the way, I also heard that the airline’s country managers in Dakar (Senegal) and Banjul (The Gambia) have resigned last week in a space of two days…wow!
Any way, things are getting a bit rosy for the new entrant, Arik Air. It is our belief that Arik, which is now the only player in the market, will learn from Bellview’s past to structure its operations.