NCAA to sanction Turkish Airlines 

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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has said that it would not hesitate to invoke relevant sections of the organisation’s  regulations to sanction

By Itohan Abara-Laserian

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has said that it would not hesitate to invoke relevant sections of the organisation’s  regulations to sanction Turkish Airlines over mistreatment of Nigerian passengers.

NCAA’s Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Mr Michael Achimugu, disclosed this to newsmen on Wednesday in Lagos.

Achimugu said that President Bola Tinubu had directed NCAA, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and relevant agencies, to ensure that the rights of Nigerian passengers were protected at all times.

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He said the NCAA was currently mediating on the feud between the European carrier and aviation labour unions, who picketed the airline’s operations at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

According to him, the agency will not hesitate to roll out stiff penalties and sanctions to Turkish Airlines as Nigerian passengers, are still stranded at the airport, following its failure to airlift them to Istanbul.

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

According to him, the Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Chris Najomo, had in a virtual meeting on Tuesday from the United Kingdom initiated reconciliatory  moves between the Country Manager of Turkish Airlines and the unions.

He, however, said the representative of the airline exhibited some traits of impudence, which the regulator deemed 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 is found culpable.

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

He confirmed that over 300 passengers had been trapped in the imbroglio involving the Turkish Airlines, and aviation unions, as the carrier had canceled flights out of and into Nigeria until Thursday.

Achimugu said that, 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 Tinubu has directed the NCAA, FAAN and relevant agencies to ensure 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 D-G 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 met out the right punishment,” he said.

Achimugu on Wednesday evening visited the stranded passengers at the new terminal of the international airport, where he conveyed the message of the D-G to them, saying hat the authority would not rest until they were transported to their various destinations.

One of the stranded passenger, Obiekwe Ngozichukwu, a Guttenberg, Sweden resident, said he was afraid of losing his job as a top official of one of the hotels in that country, because the company had been calling him to resume work.

He said he visited Nigeria for his mother’s burial, but could not go back because of the cancellation of his flight, and had been sleeping on the floor at the airport for two days.

“We don’t know when we are leaving here, I appeal to the authorities to intervene and save us from this  experience.”

Another passenger, a Germany based construction worker, Charles Ifeanyi, also appealed to the Federal Government to intervene, to save the situation, lamenting that the authorities must not allow Nigerians to be maltreated anywhere in the world anyhow.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had began the picketing of Turkish Airlines in Lagos.

The picketing is to ensure that the carrier reinstates staffers, who were dismissed, forced to abandon duty or forced to resign under duress, including those victimised for their union membership in 2020. (NAN)

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