Wednesday 28 December 2016

N6 million fine: Arik accuses Nigerian aviation authority of “unprofessional” act

Nigeria’s largest airline, Arik, has accused the country’s aviation authority of “unprofessional” act.
The management of Arik said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, acted in an ‘unprofessional’ manner by publicising the letter detailing the N6 million fine issued to the airline on Tuesday.

In a statement on Wednesday by the airline’s Public Relations Manager, Adebanji Ola, Arik said that the letter was publicised before it could respond within the deadline given.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had, Tuesday, issued a N6million fine to Arik Air Limited for contravening the provisions of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs).
The agency also ordered the airline to pay its passengers, whose baggage were delayed on the London to Lagos route between December 2 and December 4, $150 each as compensation.
According to a statement signed by the agency’s General Manager, Public Relations, Sam Adurogboye, and obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria, the NCAA’s Letter of Sanction with reference no. NCAA/DG/CSLA/RM/1-06/16/439 and dated December 22, was also sent to
Arik Air.
The statement said the NCAA authority was earlier inundated with complaints of delay and inability to ferry the passengers’ checked–in luggage on the airline’s services from London to Lagos from December 2 to December 4. It said upon receipt of the complaints, the NCAA
invited the airline to a meeting on December 6 which was duly attended by the airlines’ representative. It however said that the NCAA discovered that Arik Air violated Part 19.7.2 and (ii) of the Nig.CARs 2015.
But in its response on Wednesday, Arik Air said that it did everything possible to ensure the London passengers got their baggage in good time.
According to the statement, when the airline’s wide body A330-200 aircraft was damaged by a ground handling truck, it deployed a B737-800 on the London route to minimise the disruption to the passengers.
“All passengers checking in from London were given a letter informing them of the capacity limitation and weight restriction on this aircraft type and advised that some of their baggage would be delayed because of this and transported on the next available flight with capacity. All passengers were accepted on to the flight based on this understanding.
“However, after arriving in Lagos some of them formed pressure groups and took the laws into their own hands disrupting the operations of the airline, assaulting the airline’s employees and destroying its property,” the statement said.
The airline also alleged that some of its employees were beaten and hospitalised, and that the passengers disrupted its operations.
“However, some of the passengers disrupted our operations for several days thereby making it impossible for the aircraft to operate from Lagos and return from London Heathrow before the night curfew, further preventing the short landed bags from being recovered,” the airline said.
Similarly, the airline alleged that the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, security did nothing to prevent the passengers from disrupting the airline’s operations by providing adequate security to the airline and its personnel to enable the flights to leave on time. It added that their actions prevented a quicker resolution in the recovery of baggage.
“Some FAAN security personnel were also encouraging passengers to disrupt checking-in process and seated themselves on top of Arik Air check-in counters.”
Arik Air however assured its passengers and other industry stakeholders that it would address the issues raised in the NCAA’s letter within the seven days deadline stated in the letter.
Meanwhile, the NCAA in its statement on Tuesday said the N6 million fine must be paid within seven days of receipt of the letter while the $150 compensation to each of the passengers must be made within 30 days.
“The NCAA expects strict compliance with the provisions of Part 19 of the Nig.CARs by the airline in future,” the agency said in a statement.
“This is to assure all stakeholders that the authority exists to protect their rights at all times and as such any violation of the regulation in that regard will be viewed seriously.”

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