To avoid the usual problem of delayed baggage arrival or passengers getting stranded at airports often witnessed during Christmas and the New Year season particularly on international flights, the federal government is set to grant permission to foreign airlines operating in the country to operate extra flights during the festive periods.
Granting the extra frequencies will tackle the challenges of the delay in baggage arrival and passengers getting stranded across the airports during the season.
Nigeria’s a international airports especially are always made chaotic when passengers coming back home for Christmas and New year travel with large baggage which often overwhelm the airlines.
Speaking on the development, the Director of Consumer Protection, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Adamu Abdullahi in an interview attributed the problem to when the airlines choose to deploy a certain type of aircraft not big enough to accommodate both passengers and their luggage.
“The International airlines especially the African airlines come into this country with B737’s, B737 which even if it is 800 series will not carry much luggage, Nigerians travel heavy, you see one passenger-carrying 20 bags and he wants to travel along with his bags as checked-in luggage even if you charge him excess he will pay to make sure he travels along with his baggage so we now have weight constraints, space constraints. So, the way around it is to ensure that whatever additional flights these airlines ask for, they get”.
Already, African airlines like Royal Air Maroc, Egypt Air and some others have been granted permission to operate additional flights using wide-bodied planes to cater to their passengers.
Adamu emphasizes the ongoing tireless effort of the NCAA to prevail on the Ministry of Aviation to grant the request so that passengers can have their luggage in time and avoid the commotion that usually occurs when their luggage does not accompany them.
“Normally, during this period the Ministry considers and gives them permission to fly in with bigger aircraft so even if it is once or twice a week, they can get a wide-bodied into the country most of the luggage will still come, in addition, some of the airlines like the Royal Air Maroc that we mentioned earlier also request for cargo flights and these are essential to carry passengers luggage and make sure that they come in time so that the passengers will have their baggage for Christmas or for the yuletide season”.
With the concession granted the airlines, Adamu expressed optimism that the arrangement was capable of nipping any ugly trend in the bud.
“So, we pray that this time around we are going to see better arrangement and we have taken all the necessary steps to make sure that it doesn’t deteriorate like last year because yes, an airline has done wrong it hasn’t brought your luggage along with you so how do you solve the problem if you beat up the airline staff? It doesn’t solve your problem or how does it solve the problem if the same aircraft that is now to go back to whatever country to bring your luggage and you block it on the apron and say that aircraft cannot fly or you block their passengers and say they cannot enter the aircraft, how does that help your case?”.
He equally appealed to passengers to exercise maximum restraints when the issue of delayed luggage occurs and allow the concerned authorities to resolve the matter, adding the directorate also there at the airport to ensure that their rights are not infringed upon.
“So we will still beg that the passengers, yes they have rights but they also have responsibilities, they should abide by the rules and regulations that govern their behaviour in the airport environment.
“The airlines also have responsibilities in as much as we will do our very best and shield you from passengers, we are the ones who get the bashing always, we also must appeal to all the airlines to do the needful, make sure you carry passengers along with their bags in as much as safety is not compromised because when safety is involved Consumer Protection will move back because you have to be safe first before you start talking about rights.
“Therefore, we will continue to appeal to the airlines, carry your passengers along, let them know the problems you have, let them be part of the problem and let them be part of the solution, that way things will be batter for all of us”.
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