53% flights operated in Nigeria in 2023 delayed, NCAA vows to go tough on airlines

The Acting Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt Chris Najomo has again read the riot act to airlines engaging in incessant flight delays and cancellations.

He expressed his 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, stressing that the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo is determined to enforce his five-point agenda as mandated by the president.

He 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 schedules to match their number of serviceable aircraft and that airlines are all aware of the airports which have sunset operations.

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

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The NCAA chief stressed that the NCAA would 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 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.”

Najomo pointed out, “It is no longer business as usual as errant airlines will be sanctioned appropriately without fear or favour,” noting that the NCAA has stepped up its surveillance to monitor compliance to fish out violators.

Speaking in the same vein, the Director of Consumer Protection and Public Affairs, Michael Achimugu re-emphasized that the authority would not relent in its commitment to ensuring pleasurable travel experience and comfort for air transport passengers, hinting that the airlines present committed to work on all issues raised and make adjustments where necessary.

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Achimugu noted that the importance of the meeting held between the carriers and Keyamo, focused on sanitising the aviation industry, vowing that sanctions will be applied for any infractions or flight disruptions not managed properly.

Concerns raised by some airlines included poor airport facilities, the single standby generator at the General Aviation Terminal in Lagos, frequent bird strikes, and bush burning in Port Harcourt’s 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.

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He further stated that FAAN was also looking into issues that concern airport facilities to find immediate solutions to ease passenger and baggage flow at the airport which 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 disclosed that 53% of total flights operated in Nigeria in 2023 were delayed and 1% cancelled. It was imperative to have the session to inform the airlines of the provisions of the regulations and applicable sanctions.

Wole Shadare