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Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to sanction Turkish Airlines over passenger mistreatment



Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to sanction Turkish Airlines over passenger mistreatment

Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to sanction Turkish Airlines over passenger mistreatment

In a dramatic turn of events, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has announced that it will impose severe sanctions on Turkish Airlines following allegations of maltreatment of Nigerian passengers. The incident, which has left hundreds of passengers stranded at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos, has sparked widespread outrage and prompted the NCAA to take decisive action.

Stranded Passengers and Flight Cancellations

For several days, passengers of Turkish Airlines have found themselves stranded at MMIA due to flight cancellations. This disruption has been attributed to an ongoing dispute between the airline and Nigerian aviation unions, which led to the picketing of Turkish Airlines’ operations at the Lagos Airport on Tuesday. The airline has subsequently canceled all flights into and out of Nigeria until Thursday, exacerbating the situation for many travelers.

NCAA’s Response

Michael Achimugu, the spokesperson and Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection for the NCAA, revealed that the regulatory body is currently mediating the conflict between Turkish Airlines and the aviation unions. Achimugu emphasized that the NCAA, along with the Federal Government and its agencies, will not tolerate any violation of Nigerian passengers’ rights by any airline, foreign or domestic.

“The NCAA is thoroughly investigating the circumstances surrounding Turkish Airlines’ inability to operate flights from Lagos Airport due to the union’s picketing. Our primary goal is to ensure that the rights of Nigerian passengers are upheld,” Achimugu stated. He also mentioned that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed the NCAA, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and other relevant agencies to protect Nigerian passengers’ rights.

Disrespect and Insolence

A key point of contention arose during a virtual meeting initiated by the NCAA’s Director General, Captain Chris Najomo, who attempted to mediate between Turkish Airlines’ Country Manager and the aviation unions. According to Achimugu, the Country Manager displayed a lack of respect and insolence during the meeting, engaging in a shouting match and even banging on the table. This behavior has been deemed unacceptable by the NCAA, further complicating the situation.

Potential Sanctions

Achimugu indicated that the Federal Government is prepared to delve deeply into the impasse and impose appropriate sanctions on Turkish Airlines if the carrier is found culpable. He referenced the NCAA’s regulation, specifically Part 17, which outlines the penalties for such infractions. The investigation aims to ensure that Turkish Airlines adheres to the regulatory framework and respects the rights of its passengers.

Passengers’ Plight

The stranded passengers, many of whom traveled from neighboring states to Lagos, have expressed their frustration and disappointment. They have missed important business and family commitments due to the unexpected cancellations. Some passengers reported that despite receiving emails from Turkish Airlines regarding the operational hitches, they still arrived at the airport only to find themselves unable to travel.

Passengers are now calling on Turkish Airlines to go beyond the basic accommodation provisions prescribed by NCAA regulations. They are requesting that the airline secure them seats on other airlines to meet their commitments and schedules.

Background of the Dispute

The current crisis stems from a long-standing dispute between Turkish Airlines and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC). On Tuesday, the NLC began picketing Turkish Airlines at Lagos Airport, demanding the reinstatement of staff members who were dismissed, forced to abandon their duties, or coerced into resigning under duress. The NLC has accused Turkish Airlines management of a concerted effort to undermine the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) by dismissing union members under dubious circumstances.

NLC’s Stand

Chris Ufot, the Acting General Secretary of the NLC, issued a notice urging all affiliate unions in the aviation sector to mobilize heavily for the picketing action. He also mentioned the possibility of escalating the matter to Abuja Airport if necessary. The NLC claims that Turkish Airlines has dismissed seven out of eleven union members without benefits, using a disciplinary committee that does not adhere to the agreed conditions of service negotiated with NUATE.

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