NCAA reads riot act to airlines over flight disruptions

The Acting Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Chris Najomo has read the riot act to domestic airline operators, expressing displeasure at the alarming reports of incessant delays, flight disruptions, and schedule changes without adequate notice to passengers.

Najomo reiterated the need for airlines to improve their services as the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo is determined to enforce his five point agenda as mandated by the president.

Najomo stated that the current record of flight disruptions, poor customer experience and poor handling of passengers is unacceptable and must be improved upon.

He stated that airlines must rejig their flight scheduled to match their number of serviceable aircraft and that airlines are all aware of the airports which have sunset operations.

Hence, airlines “must consider scheduling flights into sunset airports early in the day so as to minimize cancellations as a result of airport closure at sunset.

Najomo stressed that NCAA will ensure that airlines fulfil their obligations to passengers or face sanctions.

“Airlines must handle persons with reduced mobility properly, with dignity and without discrimination as airlines are mandated to provide facilities for the movement of Persons with reduced mobility and by virtue of the provisions of Nigeria Civil aviation regulations part 19, airlines are required to provide on their ticket portal a mandatory field for special needs assistance and require their agents to actively ask customers during ticket purchase if they will require assistance” he reiterated.

The Ag. DGCA pointed that “it is no longer business as usual as errant airlines will be sanctioned appropriately without fear or favor” noting that NCAA has stepped up its surveillance to monitor compliance with a view to fish out violators.

The DCP&PA reemphasized that the Authority will not relent in its commitment to ensuring pleasurable travel experience and comfort for air transport passengers.

He charged airlines to commit to work on all issues raised and make adjustments where necessary.

The Director Consumer Protection & Public Affairs, Michael Achimugu, emphasized the importance of the meeting stating that the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development is focused on sanitizing the aviation industry and that sanctions will be applied for any infractions or flight disruptions not managed properly.

Concerns raised by the some airlines included poor airport facilities, the single standby generator at the General Aviation Terminal in Lagos, frequent bird strikes, bush burning in Port Harcourt congested boarding gates, were addressed by the Director of Airport Operations (FAAN) who informed that his agency had observed incidents of bird strikes occurred during grass cutting at the airports and that FAAN is working tirelessly to minimize bird strike incidents.

He further informed that FAAN is also looking into issues that concern airport facilities with a view to finding immediate solutions to ease passenger and baggage flow at the airport which is has begun as evident at some terminals.

A paper presented by Mrs. Ifueko Abdulmalik, AGM Flight Operations & Adjudication, on the provisions of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations 2023 Part 19, dwelt on airline obligations to passengers in events of flight delays, cancellations, schedule changes, baggage delays and loss.

She informed that 53 percent of total flights operated in Nigeria in 2023 were delayed and one percent cancelled.

“It was imperative to have the session so as to inform the airlines of the provisions of the regulations and applicable sanctions”, she said.

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