February 20, (THEWILL) – The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), has condemned series of attacks on airline staff and facilities at the various airports by passengers over flight delays or cancellations.
Calling for immediate cessation of such acts, AON pointed out that, they too also feel the pain and frustration of travellers over delayed or cancelled flights due to the disruptions associated with it.
The body however, informed that, no airline operator deliberately delays or cancels flights, because the aircraft is meant to be in the air and not on ground.
In an official statement issued on Friday, signed by their President, Alhaji Yunusa S. Abdulmunaf and Vice President, Barr. Allen Onyema, endorsed by nine other local airline operators, AON stated that “aircraft on ground, which is a huge loss to operators and impacts negatively on the economy of our dear country, is, however, mostly, for safety and so many reasons outside the control of operators. For this reason, AON has been at the front of seeking more effective ways to mitigate factors that cause flight delays and huge economic losses to the country.
However, we believe that the trend of violent attacks on airline staff and facilities have to stop.”
It added that “there have been instances where airline staff have been physically injured by passengers. Airline property running into millions of Naira, have also been destroyed by passengers.
Those airline staff and facilities are not the causes of flight delays. They are also human beings, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters etc., working to earn a living and put food on the table for their families”, AON insisted.
According to the operators, violent attacks on airline staff, occasioning physical harm, is not a civilised and mature way for passengers to register their disappointments over flight delays or cancellations.
They advised that “there are better ways to do this, which are also spelt out by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in its manuals”, adding that assengers can also pursue their rights through the Consumer Protection Council.
“We are also worried that these violent attacks and destruction of property at our airports go a long way to cause disruption of operations, insinuate lack of adequate security at the airports and further impugn the image of our dear country.”
AON therefore, appealed to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), to improve security across the airports especially, as it relates to security of airline staff and property.
“AON will no longer sit back and watch these violent attacks go on unrestrained. Passengers ought also to be informed that airline staff have rights and can use available legal means to enforce those rights and seek redress. Going forward, our members may have to explore this option as no one is permitted, by law, to take laws into their hands. We therefore call for immediate end this trend.”
“We restate the commitment of our members to do all that is humanly possible to minimise incidences of flight delays and cancellations and remain focused on on-time flight operations and strongly condemn further violent attacks on airline staff and facilities”, AON stated.