On January 26, 2004, passengers on flights operated by World Airways Inc.
through their lawyers, Echeruo, Counsel, Attorneys at Law, LLP and Madu,
Edozie & Madu P.C., filed a Class Action lawsuit in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The action was
assigned to Judge Raymond J. Dearie. The action has been brought as a
class action on behalf of a class (the “Class”) of all persons who
purchased tickets for travel from the United States to Nigeria between
November 4, 2003 and January 31, 2004 and were not transported to their
destinations on schedule by World Airways.
The action arose from World Airways decision to completely cease flight
operations to Nigeria, abandoning passengers with round trip tickets and
leaving the majority of them stranded in Lagos, Nigeria for over three (3)
weeks. World Airways was operating the flights in conjunction with
Ritetime Aviation and Travel Services, Inc (“Ritetime”) and blames its
disruption of service on a contractual dispute with Ritetime. According to
name plaintiff Dr. Obiora Anyoku, a New York based physician, “World
Airways conduct was outrageous. How can any decent company leave over
1,000 people stranded in a foreign country and simply ignore its
responsibility. We have jobs and families to go back to, and children
returning to school.” Another name plaintiff McLord Obioha, a New York
based journalist, said: “We suffered a great deal at the Lagos airport.
World Airways did not even provide us with food, water or accommodation.
It was hell. I can guarantee that this form of maltreatment would not have
been accorded passengers of non-African descent.”
World Airways, a Nasdaq traded company (WLDA), provides long-range
passenger and cargo air transportation. World Airways reported revenue for
the nine months ended September 2003 of $352.6 million.
The Class Action Complaint alleges that World Airways violated U.S.
Federal laws and regulations governing air transportation. These laws and
regulations clearly and specifically address the issues of travel
originating in the United States and mandate that airlines honor all
international round trip tickets for such flights. These laws were
instituted to prevent airlines and travel agencies alike, from taking
advantage of passengers and to protect against scenarios such as the
current predicament of the plaintiffs in this Class Action. “World Airways
appears to have engaged in a repeated pattern of violating Federal law.
They cannot escape their responsibility to their passengers and their own
wrongful conduct by pointing to Ritetime. This was a lucrative route for
World Airways, the second largest source of revenue for them, their
passengers deserved better.” said Ike O. Echeruo, Esq., an attorney
representing the plaintiffs.
The Complaint also alleges that World Airways and its co-defendants
committed fraud and were engaged in a corrupt enterprise in violation of
the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Statute (RICO).
“The plaintiffs have sustained significant damages and World Airways will
be held accountable,” said John Edozie, Esq., an attorney representing the
Plaintiff seeks to recover damages on behalf of all Class members for
damages arising from the Defendant`s actions.