Nigeria’s largest airline, Arik Air, 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 imposed on the airline last Tuesday.
In a statement issued yesterday by the airline’s Public Relations Manager, Adebanji Ola, Arik said the letter was publicised before it could respond within the deadline given.
The NCAA last Tuesday imposed a N6million fine of Arik Air for contravening the provisions of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs).
The agency, according to an online news portal, Premium Time, 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.
But in its response, Arik yesterday said 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 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 Airport 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,” it said.
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 last 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,” Arik stated.