Chibuzor Ofulue is co-founder of Africlaim, an outfit with the vision of helping air passengers all around Africa understand and enforce their right to flight delay compensation. A Loughborough University graduate in International Business and right now, a Master’s degree student in Air Transport Management, Ofulue, in this interview with Kayode Fasua, says Africlaim is determined to enforce responsive air transportation management in the African continent. Excerpts:
As a co-founder of Africlaim, can you explain what the endeavour all about?
Africlaim was founded in 2016 with the vision of helping air passengers all around Africa understand and enforce their right to flight delay compensation – which is usually neglected around this part of the world. Our mission is to make claiming flight delay compensation a completely hassle-free process for our customers, while also offering the best pay-out rates worldwide. With Africlaim, you get a real value for your money and time. Africlaim is the first of its kind in Africa. It is a platform designed to make the claim filing process much easy for passengers involved in delayed, cancelled and overbook flights. Passengers may be entitled to as much as $700 for their flight delays.
What inspired you into creating this idea?
As you may be aware of, the Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004 was established, requiring airlines to pay compensation of €250 to €600, depending on the flight distance for delays spanning over three hours, for flght cancellations, or being denied boarding arising from overbooking.
In late 2015, Ifeanyi Ezechukwu, my partner in this endevour, was subjected to a flight delay situation by a reputable airline flying from Milan to Lagos. The airline did nothing to show concern towards his plight. No compensation was offered whatsoever.
A frustrated Ifeanyi, who had now been stuck in the airport for close to six hours, called me-and I was working in Lagos at the time, to share his unfair experience in the hands of the airline. Digging deeper into the issue, we stumbled upon the EU regulation (EC) 261/2004 – which stated that Ifeanyi was entitled to claiming up to $700 for the inconvenience and loss of time suffered as a result of the delay. With a great amount of research and support from friends and associates with legal backgrounds, we were able to secure Ifeanyi’s full compensation for his delay.
Realising that it was actually possible to secure compensation for flight delays and that most Nigerians especially, did not know about this, despite the harsh treatments from airlines, we decided to set out to help unaware passengers claim their rightful compensation. And so, Africlaim was born! Africlaim has so far helped thousands of unaware passengers over the past few years understand their rights and successfully claimed for them, their financial compensation.
But some flight delays are due to natural causes, like bad weather?
Yes, we know. Flight delays happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them. You should strive to know if your rights have been impugned. What does the regulation say the airline should do in the event of a foreshadowed bad weather situation? Our goal is to ensure that the air passengers are not cheated out. When your flight is to be delayed, why couldn’t you get notified early enough? How about its negative effects on your proposed business transaction or medical treatment trip? These are some of the grey areas, among many others, that we stand to help air travellers sort out. Like I said earlier, you may be entitled to as much as $700 if your flight has been delayed, cancelled, or overbooked especially within the last four years.
So what impact have you made since your debut?
delays happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them. You may be entitled tAfriclaim is the first company in the African continent to have the vision of being in the forefront of ensuring that passengers have easy access to claiming rightful compensation from airline disruptions, which are very common. With our vast experience and expertise in flight delay compensation, combined with a strong desire for customer satisfaction, Africlaim is well-positioned as the leader in the industry.
Besides, Africlaim currently boasts of a 98 percent success rate on all claims processed through the company. Our legal aviation knowledge and experience, combined with our unique algorithms and a stubborn desire to make airlines compensate their passengers, make us the right choice for processing your claim. Your chances of getting paid are greatly increased when filing with us and you also save a great deal of time and stress! Once you receive the email notification that your claim is ready for payout, you can proceed to select your most preferred pay-out option from a multiple range of options which include: Cash, Cheque, Bank transfer (Manual & International) and PayPal. We also pay out in any currency of your choice!
Compared to taking on the claim for your flight delay compensation process on your own or with any other firm, we offer one of the fastest processing times, both on the domestic and international market. This means you wouldn’t have to wait for long before you receive your financial compensation from the airline.
Our “No Win, No Fee” policy simply means that in the unlikely event that we handle your case and your claim is unsuccessful, we won’t charge you a thing. We do not charge any up-front fees; we take our fees from the compensation that you are awarded, so you never have to deal with surprise legal bills or any hidden costs.
Can the Africlaim ambition succeed in a clime like Nigeria?
Yes, it can work in any country, Nigeria inclusive. Flight delays happen worldwide, so it can work in any country where you have an airport. But you know Nigeria is unique when it comes to such, as many legal trappings, and refusal by airlines to honour compensatory obligations may apply?
Yes, this country is unique because it offers a great amount of challenges. Hence, it does not work as easy as it does in other places such as Europe. But with the way the company operates, there is a law that protects passengers. It is an European Union Law. It entitles passengers to about 600 Euro in flight delay compensation whenever they are involved in any flight disruption that meets a certain criterion.
How does this law cover Nigerians?
The law covers you if your flight took off or landed in the EU, or your flight was with an EU airline. For instance, if you were delayed on a flight from the United Kingdom to Nigeria, you are fully eligible for compensation as long as your delay meets some certain requirements. Or, if you are involved in a delayed departure out of Nigeria on an EU airline (such as British Airways or Virgin Atlantic), you’re also covered by the law. It’s really that simple! The law is not specific to your citizenship. It is all about if your situation meets with the criteria of compensation. So, yes, it can work in Nigeria; it can cover Nigerians.
Have you had challenges with Nigerian airlines with regard to the Africlaim endeavour?
Yes, we have had previous experiences with Nigerian carriers like Arik and Medview airlines. They tend to make the process lengthier and more difficult. It’s not easy dealing with fellow Nigerian companies. So, it can work but it will take just a longer process.
Now as a young Nigerian, do you have hope in this country?
Yes! A lot of hope!
Why? Even with the ways that things are going on?
What Nigeria is going through now, other countries have gone through it before. Our development as a country, I would say, has just been delayed a bit longer. So, there are just some elements that we hope will pass through with time. It’s just that a strong sense of indiscipline has been unduly pervasive in the country. Hopefully, with the whole era of globalisation, the next generation of, let me say, leaders, would learn from other parts of the world, because, now, let me say the borders between countries have been virtually eliminated. Like now as a Nigerian, you know what is going on so well in America, you know what is going on in the whole world. So, with time, it will get better. I feel like the main thing holding the country back is lack of education. But a lot of people blame technology, light, water, to mention but a few. But to me, I think the main thing is education. If education is fixed, then people will learn how to do the right thing. Remember that education does not just mean learning stuff at schools. It also includes learning how to be a responsible person or a better person for the society. So, once the average Nigerian or the average rate of literacy in the country is improved, there is a lot of hope. You can see these days a lot of improvement in athletics and social life. This is simply because of influences from the western world. Like, people are trying to do things in a better way. So, there is hope that things will be better in Nigeria. My hope in Nigeria has not waned.