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Commercial airlines reaction on FG pronouncements

HADI SIRIKA

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had, on Thursday at the weekly State House Briefing in Aso Villa, Abuja, read out some of the rights of air passengers as enshrined in Part 19 of the Consumer Protection Regulations of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (2015) and charged them to demand their rights whenever they were being trampled upon by airlines.

Federal Government has given a directive to airline operators, which they must refund the full cost of travel tickets to passengers after a two-hour delay.

Commercial airlines have listed the conditions for such reimbursement.
According to information gathered by few local airlines, the spokesman for Dana Air, reiterate that what the minister read at tge presidential briefing was not new, bu that airline would rather delay or cancel flights and ensure the safety of their passengers than fly when it is technically unsafe to do so.

According to him, “what he said is not new, it has been in existence in the Nigeria civil Aviation Regulations 2015. We refund when passengers request for refund, we provide accommodation when flight is cancelled in the night. We transport passengers from the airports to the hotel and bring them back the morning. We also compensate where necessary after providing all these things.

Kingsley Ezenwa the spoke man for Dana Air agreed with the minister that when there were issues that necessitated flight cancellations and or delay beyond scheduled time, timely communication and engagement with the passengers could make the difference.

“Flight delay is a peculiarity of the industry and these issues come up once in a while. No airline can say it has not had one or two hours delay due to bad weather, technical issues, documentation and other factors.

No airline will delay deliberately but when it has to do with safety and best standard practices, we will rather do the right thing and take the bashing. We need to ensure the safety of our passengers at all times.

“It is quite understandable when passengers are angry because they have paid. It is understandable because they have commitments and appointments but there are times when we just have to do the right thing and these may cause delay in take-off.”

Alongside, an official of Aero Contractors who did not want to be named said the airline had been complying with the regulations of the Federal Government.

“I can tell you that Aero is going to comply with the standard procedure based on regulatory and government policies and based on the new comment the minister made yesterday (Thursday). When there is AOG (aircraft on ground) due to technical faults, we cancel the flight. When there is weather issue, we cancel the flight. Passengers are either refunded or if they are willing, they can reschedule to fly again without any penalty or additional cost. That has been the normal procedure,” he said.

When asked of the conditions for refund, he said, “It depends on the circumstances. If they pay cash, they will get cash; if it is PoS, their funds will be transferred to them.”

The official, however, did not give the duration of refund which he said “it is not cast in iron”.

However, Air Peace’s spokesman, Stanley Olisa, said the airline does refund passengers whenever there is flight cancellation due to weather or technical glitches.

Responding to a question by our correspondent, he said, “Yes, we refund our customers based on the terms and conditions of our tickets. Refund can be voluntary, where the customer is refunded 75 per cent of the fare and this occurs when they no longer wish to fly on the service paid for. It is involuntary when we cancel the flight and the passenger is refunded the full fare. The refund process takes three to four weeks.”

United Nigeria Airlines one of the new airline, told our correspondent that the operator would make its position known soon.

“The company will make its official position known. There are different issues between regulatory authorities and ministerial pronouncements,”

Although, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency in its weather forecast outlook on Friday, said thunderstorms were expected over parts of Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba, Yobe and Borno States while other parts of the northern region would be under cloudy skies.

Also, contacting Arik Air’s Public Relations and Communications Manager, Banji Ola, kept mute on the matter. “I don’t have any comment to make,” he told our correspondent over the phone.

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