… Condemns Passengers Attack On Max Air Staff In Abuja
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called on the Federal Government through the Ministry of Aviation and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) to strengthen security at airports across the country to protect the lives of airline staff and their properties to prevent a repeat of the incident that happened in Abuja.
This just as the body condemned in the strongest terms the recent attack by some unruly passengers on staff of Max Air and the wanton destruction of the airline’s properties due to a flight delay in Abuja
According to AON, the unfortunate development further heightens it deepest concern and worry over the increasingly deplorable state of security and the rising threat to the lives of airline staff and their properties at Nigerian airports.
A statement signed by the AON President, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa, said that airport vicinity is a sensitive and sacrosanct environment where people are not allowed to behave in callous and uncontrollable manner, adding that a situation where passengers are allowed to have access into sensitive restricted areas of the airport and attack airline staff or prevent a plane from departing to other destinations because a particular flight is delayed or cancelled puts the country in a bad light in the international community.
AON contended that issues of delay or cancellation can be addressed in a civil manner without resorting to violence, adding that the unruly passengers that went after Max Air and destroyed the computer reservation systems further exacerbated the problem for other passengers going to other destinations and that such acts are completely unacceptable.
“AON understands the frustrations whenever a flight is delayed or cancelled and we apologise to passengers on behalf of airlines for such delays or cancellations. It is however instructive to note that delays happen worldwide and there are conditions that cause them.”
The airline umbrella body informed that in Nigeria, 80 per cent of the causes of delays and cancellations are due to factors that are not in the control of airlines, stressing that airlines operating in Nigeria are forced to operate in an environment that is wrought with infrastructure deficiencies that are highly disruptive to normal schedule reliability and on time performance.
AON listed some of the more prevalent causes of delays and cancellations include:
- Unavailability and rising cost of Jet A1 (which today costs above N585 per litre in Lagos, N607 in Abuja and Port Harcourt, and N685 in Kano)
- Inadequate parking space for aircraft on the apron sometimes leading to ground accidents
- Inadequate screening and exit points at departure
- Inefficient passenger access and facilitation,
- Natural and unforeseen circumstances such as weather and catastrophic failures (e.g. bird strikes & component failures), and
- Restrictions caused by sunset airports among others.
- The body appealed to passengers to have some restraint in expressing their displeasure or frustrations during flight delays or cancellation, as airline, within the prevailing circumstances could be complying with a safety procedure, obeying a regulation or facing certain difficulties beyond its immediate control.
AON said that it is also necessary to put on record that while passengers are entitled to their rights, they also have some obligations and responsibilities.
It cited Part 19 of “Nig. CARs 2012, Vol. II that highlighted some rights and responsibilities of passengers to buttress its points.
AON also cited item six of the NCAA’s Notice on Passenger Obligations To Airlines/Service Providers which requires passengers to: “Be of good behavior at all stages of their journey,” adding that “Airlines and agencies have a zero policy for unruly behavior ” to further drive home its points
The notice, AON said goes further to state that:
- All airport and airline staff deserves to be treated with respect and courtesy. An airline reserves the right to deny boarding/disembark a passenger for unruly behaviours.
- Passengers are prohibited from interfering with flight crew and aircraft attendants.
- Offensive, disorderly conduct such as physical assault, verbal abuse or sexual harassment of any airline or service provider staff will attract severe punishment in addition to fines or jail term.
AON further argued that Part 17.92.1 of the Nig. CARs 2012, Vol. II states that: “Any passenger who becomes unruly at the airport terminal or on board an Aircraft commits an offence.”
It added that Part 17.92.2(c)(d)(e)(f) defines the word “unruly” as:
(c) Fighting or other disorderly conduct on board an aircraft or at the terminal building;
(d) Any conduct/act constituting a nuisance to other passengers;
(e) Disobedience of lawful instructions issued by the aircraft commander, flight crew, cabin attendants, check-in staff and/or security screening staff;
(f) Any conduct that endangers or is likely to endanger the safety of flight operations;
Part 17.92.3 states further that: “Where any passenger becomes unruly on board an aircraft or at the terminal building, the aircraft commander or airport authority shall take necessary measures including restraint where necessary:
(a)To protect the safety of the aircraft, terminal building or of persons or property therein, or
(b) To maintain good order and discipline on board or at the terminal building; and
(c) To enable him deliver such person to competent authorities.
In view of the above, AON appealed to
the travelling public for calm, understanding and patience as well as the need to exercise the highest level of restrain and responsibility in expressing their frustration whenever their flights are delayed or cancelled.
The body called on the Federal government through the Ministry of Aviation and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) to beef up security at the nation’s airports and ensure that the lives of airline staff and their properties are lawfully protected.
“May we state also, that should a similar occurrence like the unfortunate case with Max Air happen to any of our member airlines going forward, AON may be forced to have a rethink on how to respond in such circumstances.