NCAA to Sanction Turkish Airlines Over Maltreatment of Nigerian Passengers

23rd May 2024

Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said that it will invoke relevant sections of its regulation to mete out stiff penalties/ sanctions to Turkish Airlines on the maltreatment of Nigerians passengers , who have remained stranded at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, in the past few days.

Spokesperson of the regulatory body and Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Michael Achimugu, said the NCAA was currently mediatiing on the feud between the foreign carrier and Aviation Unions, which picket the airline’s operations at the Lagos Airport on Tuesday.

Achimugu said the Federal Government and its agencies would spare no efforts to call to order, any airline that violated the rights of Nigerian passengers.

Achimugu said the Director-General of NCAA, Captain Chris Najomo had in a virtual meeting initiated reconciliatory moves between the Country Manager of Turkish Airlines and the unions, but the representative of the foreign airline exhibited some traits of insolence , which the regulator observed amounted to lack of regard for the system.

Arising from the infraction, Achimugu said the Federal Government would not hesitate to look deep into the impasse with the possibility of extracting the right punishment if the carrier was found culpable.

The Federal Government, Achimugu said, would take every step to ensure the rights of Nigerian passengers were not trampled upon by any carrier, including foreign airlines, in taking the right steps to address any infractions on their conditions of operations in the country.

He confirmed that hundreds of passengers had been trapped in the imbroglio involving the Turkish Airlines and aviation unions, as the carrier had cancelled flights out of and into Nigeria until Thursday.

Achimugu said though the carrier claimed to have communicated with passengers through electronic mail on the on- going hitch concerning its operations into and out of the country, some passengers still turned up at the Lagos Airport.

He said: “ The NCAA is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the inability of Turkish Airlines to operate flights out of Lagos Airport, due to the picketing of its operations by aviation unions, we will ensure that the rights of Nigerian passengers are not violated.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed the NCAA , the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) , and relevant agencies that the rights of Nigerian passengers are protected.

“Currently, the NCAA is engaging officials of Turkish Airlines, but we have observed some degree of insolence of the Country Manager, who engaged our Director General , Captain Chris Najomo in a shouting match, he was even banging the table. This behaviour to the NCAA is unacceptable. At the end of our findings, if the airline is found culpable, we will invoke the relevant parts of our regulation Part 17 to meet out the right punishment.”

Some of the stranded passengers said they came to the airport preparatory to their outward journey oblivious of the challenges surrounding the airline.

They said they travelled from neighbouring states to Lagos, only to be stranded at Lagos Airport.

They claimed to have missed business and other family commitments on account of their inability to travel at the initial scheduled time.

They are, however, calling on the airline to look beyond providing accommodation as the NCAA regulation prescribes, to secure them seats on other airlines in order to meet up with appointments and other schedules.

Recall that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Tuesday commenced the picketing of Turkish Airlines in Lagos in a bid for the carrier to reinstate staff that were dismissed, forced to abandon duty or forced to resign under duress, including those victimised for their union membership in 2020.

The NLC in earlier notice of picketing of Turkish Airlines in Lagos signed by its Acting General Secretary, Chris Ufot stated that all affiliate unions in aviation are particularly charged to mobilize heavily for the picketing action without fail, adding that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) council is to stand by in case there becomes a need to escalate the matter to Abuja airport.

According to the group, Turkish Airlines management had continued its determined bid to exterminate the union, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) from the airline.

It noted that in this latest onslaught, the management had dismissed seven out of eleven members of the union without benefits under trump-up charges and using a disciplinary committee constituted outside the dictate of the prevailing condition of service as negotiated with NUATE.