The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called on the Federal Government to beef up security at the nation’s airports and ensure that the lives of airline staff and their properties are lawfully protected.
AON President, Abdulmunaf Sarina, made the call in a statement on Friday while condemning the attack on some staff of Max Air in Abuja.
He lamented that some unruly passengers, who assaulted the aviation workers due to a flight delay, also destroyed some of the airline’s properties.
Sarina said this has further heightened the union’s concern and worry over the increasingly deplorable state of security and the rising threat to the lives of airline staff and their properties at the airports.
He described the airport vicinity as a sensitive and sacrosanct environment where people should not be allowed to behave in a callous and uncontrollable manner.
According to AON scribe, a situation where passengers are allowed to have access into sensitive restricted areas of the airport and attack airline staff or prevent a plane from departing to other destinations because a particular flight is delayed or cancelled puts the country in a bad light in the international community.
He stressed that issues of delay or cancellation could be addressed in a civil manner without resorting to violence.
Sarina believes the unruly passengers that went after Max Air and destroyed its computer reservation systems further exacerbates the problem for other passengers going to other destinations.
He explained that AON understood the frustrations whenever a flight was delayed or cancelled and apologised to passengers on behalf of airlines for such delays or cancellations.
The AON president, however, stated that delays happen worldwide and there were conditions responsible for such incidents.
He warned that should there be a reoccurrence like that of Max Air, the union might be forced to have a rethink on how to respond in such circumstances.
Read the full statement below:
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) hereby condemns in the strongest terms the recent attack by some unruly passengers on staff of Max Air and the wanton destruction of the airline’s properties due to a flight delay.
The unfortunate development further heightens our deepest concern and worry over the increasingly deplorable state of security and the rising threat to the lives of airline staff and their properties at Nigerian airports.
The airport vicinity is a sensitive and sacrosanct environment where people are not allowed to behave in a callous and uncontrollable manner. A situation where passengers are allowed to have access into sensitive restricted areas of the airport and attack airline staff or prevent a plane from departing to other destinations because a particular flight is delayed or cancelled puts the country in a bad light in the international community.
Issues of delay or cancellation can be addressed in a civil manner without resorting to violence. The unruly passengers that went after Max Air and destroyed the computer reservation systems further exacerbated the problem for other passengers going to other destinations. Such acts are completely unacceptable.
AON understands the frustrations whenever a flight is delayed or cancelled, and we apologise to passengers on behalf of airlines for such delays or cancellations. It is however instructive to note that delays happen worldwide and there are conditions that cause them.
In Nigeria, 80% of the causes of delays and cancellations are due to factors that are not under the control of airlines. Airlines operating in Nigeria are forced to operate in an environment that is wrought with infrastructure deficiencies that are highly disruptive to normal schedule reliability and on-time performance.
Some of the more prevalent causes of delays and cancellations include unavailability and rising cost of Jet A1 (which today costs above N585 per litre in Lagos, N607 in Abuja and Port Harcourt, and N685 in Kano), inadequate parking space for aircraft on the apron sometimes leading to ground accidents, inadequate screening and exit points at departure, inefficient passenger access and facilitation, natural and unforeseen circumstances such as weather and catastrophic failures (e.g. bird strikes & component failures), and restrictions caused by sunset airports among others.
AON would therefore like to appeal to passengers to express some restraint in expressing their displeasure or frustrations during flight delays or cancellation. This is because the airline, within the prevailing circumstances could be complying with a safety procedure, obeying a regulation or facing certain difficulties beyond its immediate control.
It is also necessary to put on record that while passengers are entitled to their rights, they also have some obligations and responsibilities. For instance, Part 19 of “Nig. CARs 2012, Vol. II highlights some rights and responsibilities of passengers.
Item six (6) of the NCAA’s Notice on Passenger Obligations To Airlines/Service Providers requires passengers to: “Be of good behaviour at all stages of their journey,” adding that “Airlines and agencies have a zero policy for unruly behaviour.”
The notice goes further to state as follows that:
All airport and airline staff deserves to be treated with respect and courtesy. An airline reserves the right to deny boarding/disembarking a passenger for unruly behaviours.
Passengers are prohibited from interfering with the flight crew and aircraft attendants.
Offensive, disorderly conduct such as physical assault, verbal abuse or sexual harassment of any airline or service provider staff will attract severe punishment in addition to fines or jail terms.
Part 17.92.1 of the Nig. CARs 2012, Vol. II states that: “Any passenger who becomes unruly at the airport terminal or onboard an Aircraft commits an offence.” Part 17.92.2(c)(d)(e)(f) defines the word “unruly” as:
Fighting or other disorderly conduct on board an aircraft or at the terminal building;
Any conduct/act constituting a nuisance to other passengers;
Disobedience of lawful instructions issued by the aircraft commander, flight crew, cabin attendants, check-in staff and/or security screening staff;
Any conduct that endangers or is likely to endanger the safety of flight operations;
Part 17.92.3 states further that: “Where any passenger becomes unruly on board an aircraft or at the terminal building, the aircraft commander or airport authority shall take necessary measures including restraint where necessary:
To protect the safety of the aircraft, terminal building or of persons or property therein, or
To maintain good order and discipline on board or at the terminal building; and
To enable him deliver such a person to competent authorities.
From the above, therefore, we hereby appeal to the travelling public for calm, understanding and patience as well as the need to exercise the highest level of restraint and responsibility in expressing their frustration whenever their flights are delayed or cancelled.
AON would also like to use this medium to call on the Federal government through the Ministry of Aviation and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria to beef up security at the nation’s airports and ensure that the lives of airline staff and their properties are lawfully protected.
May we state also, that should a similar occurrence like the unfortunate case with Max Air happen to any of our member airlines going forward, AON may be forced to have a rethink on how to respond in such circumstances.
Alhaji (Dr.) Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina
AON President (Channels TV)