According to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the aviation regulatory authority, traveling by air or using air transport services confers certain rights to the traveler, which include the right to the full value for your money; the right to compensation for flight cancellation, delays, damaged/loss baggage and denied boarding for reasons other than technical, weather conditions, air traffic control restrictions, security risks and industrial disputes that affect the operation of the flight; the right to book and confirm tickets with an airline of your choice, the right to the provision of a conducive airport environment before, during, and after flights among others.
Despite these, the social media has been awash with various types of complaints from air travelers who argue that they have been short-changed in one way or the other by the airlines.
Last year, during the Christmas holidays, many travelers could not complete their travels because some airlines had issues that made it difficult for them to fulfill their own part of the bargain to airlift the passengers to their destinations. Indeed, it was a show of shame even as some of the passengers had to stage a protest at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos to highlight their sufferings.
Also recently, a passenger narrated his ordeal in an international flight by a foreign carrier which had issues with its cooling system and the passengers had to endure the foul air from the cooling system for the duration of the flight.
In another recent incident, a passenger took to the social media to inform the public about the problem they encountered on an Arik Air flight to Ghana which its cabin was filled with smoke and how they had to use tissue-papers to improvise for the recommended oxygen masks to protect themselves, yet they were not in any way compensated for their horrific experience.
If you think these are bad enough, a frequent traveler also narrated to MMS Plus how he had purchased over 10 tickets from indigenous airlines that he could not use to travel and has been unable to get a refund from the airlines. He said he turned-up to travel but was denied boarding due to overbooking by the said airline few hours after he paid for the ticket.
Unfortunately the NCAA has decided to hide under some bureaucratic excuses on how a passenger should file a complaint and all what not to shield its inefficiency in this regard. This might have been the reason the Consumer Protestation Council (CPC) has become more active and involved in aviation matters in recent times as the NCAA has become complacent in its role to enforce the regulations involving the protection of Air travelers.
Many have asked why the regulatory authority, especially its Consumer Protection Unit (CPU) should wait for a customer to go through the rigors of obtaining and filling the complaints form before it could get into action, especially when they have offices located at the terminal buildings where some of the breaches to the customers’ rights take place, especially the issues that deal with delayed flights and cancellations and denied boarding.
Consequently, the statement by the Consumer Protection Council on the need for additional scrutiny and precaution in the aviation industry in order to ensure safe operations and passenger satisfaction should be taken seriously by the relevant aviation authority.
The Director-General of CPC, Babatunde Irukera, had stated this recently in reaction to the emergency landing of Arik Air flight W3304 at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra, Ghana. A passenger used the social media platform to inform about the flight.
The CPC , while acknowledging the efforts of the Nigerian Civil Aviation stressed the need for relevant aviation authorities to ensure full compliance with local and other applicable consumer protection laws, regulations and protocols, particularly, but not limited to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations Part 19.
While some have viewed the recent statements by the CPC as meddlesome in aviation matters which they said are very technical, others have taken a swipe at the regulatory authority for failing in its statutory responsibilities in terms of passengers protection based on the recent happenings were passengers have taken to the social media platform to air their dissatisfactions with regards to substandard treatments and services they get by both the domestic and foreign airlines operating in the country.
So, it is now left to the regulatory authority to put its house in order.
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