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Air Peace flouts FG’s directive, delays passengers for hours at Lagos Airport

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Abiola Seun

Despite federal government’s effort to ensure on time travel for air passengers across the nation’s airports, Air Peace is the latest airline to flout FG’s directive by delaying Abuja bound passengers for over three hours on Monday evening.

The passengers, who were visibly angry, also complained that the airline also refused to give adequate information to stranded passengers theoughout the time the delay lasted.

Recall that the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika had in July, 2021 warned that airline operators in the country must refund the full cost of travel tickets to passengers after a two-hour delay.

He said, “On domestic flights, delay beyond one hour, carrier should provide refreshment, and one telephone call, or one SMS, or one e-mail. They should send you an SMS or email or call you to say, ‘I am sorry, I am delaying for one hour’.

“Delay for two hours and beyond, the carrier shall reimburse passengers the full volume of their tickets.”

“Delay between 10pm and 4am, carrier shall provide hotel accommodation, refreshment, meal, two free calls, SMS, email and transport to-and-fro airport.’’

The minister, who noted that the same rules applied for international flights, said his ministry had started sanctioning some airlines who defaulted on consumer rights, but urged passengers not to be unruly at airports,” he declared.

However, government’s position on flight delays and cancellations came against the backdrop of public outcry over the phenomenon, especially by air travellers.

But, three months after coming up with stiffer sanctions against flight delays and cancellations in the country, airlines still flout the government directive with reckless abandon.

For instance, a 19:00 Abuja bound Air Peace flight from Lagos to Abuja was delayed for over three hours with no reasonable information made available to the passengers.

It was, however, gathered that passengers for the Abuja bound flight were not boarded until  21:15, thereby disrupting passengers itinerary and meetings for the remaining of the day.

Speaking on this development, the Secretary General, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said any delay not occasioned by technical or environmental circumstances such as sudden faulty engine; scarcity of aviation fuel, delays due to traffic, weather, airports facilitation process should be queried by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s (NCAA’s), Customers Protection Unit.

“Delays and cancellations may be due to several reasons which could be technical or environmental challenges such as sudden faulty engine, scarcity of fuel, ATCS delays due to traffic, weather, airports facilitation process etc. If there are other reasons other than these ,the NCAA’s Consumer Protection Unit would call the relevant or concerned operators to order,” he said.

Also speaking, the immediate past Secretary-General, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Com. Olayinka Abioye said the NCAA should strengthen the aviation system by applying sanctions in its status books to defaulting airlines.

According to him, NCAA should let air passengers know their right that passengers delayed for one hour is entitled to a refreshment while for more than two hours is entitled to refund of their ticket fee.

The union leader said, “the minister means well when he made the pronouncement and it is for the airlines not to take passengers for granted and if they do, they are to be sanctioned.

“The requisite sanctions is in NCAA’s statue books that one hour delay of passangers, so they deserved a refreshment while two hours or more is a refund and airline that refused to do that should be sanctioned.”
“NCAA should help the system by allowing persengers to know their right and that if the prescribed sanctions are not being redeemed, they should inform the station manager at any terminal they are or the Consumer Protection Unit of NCAA. That’s how it should be,” he declared.

However, effort to get the response of Air Peace on reasons for delay of passengers despite FG’s directive proved abortive as messages sent to the spokesperson, Stanley Olisa was not responded as at the time of filing this report

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