Nigerian air passengers may be granted some relief from Nigerian airlines in the future, both domestically and internationally. Despite the fact that the law providing passengers with a 100 percent refund in the event of delays or cancellations is not new, having been gazetted in 2015, passengers have been groaning under the airlines’ sleazy treatment.
The Federal Government’s stern warning to airlines over the never-ending flight delays and cancellations has been greatly appreciated by air passengers, who are frequently not adequately compensated or treated in accordance with international aviation best practices. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation, announced that after a two-hour delay, airline operators must refund the full cost of travel tickets to passengers. Passengers should also demand their rights, he said.
For any delay of more than one hour, airlines must provide refreshment, one phone call, one SMS, or one e-mail, in addition to a refund on domestic flights. The airline is also required to send an e-mail or SMS to passengers apologizing for an hour delay. Airlines must reimburse passengers for the full cost of their tickets if they are delayed for more than two hours. Carriers must provide hotel accommodations, refreshments, meals, two free calls, SMS, e-mail, and transportation to and from airports for delays between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. These also apply to international flights.
We applaud the aviation minister for reminding passengers of their rights and announcing that the ministry had begun enforcing penalties against defaulting airlines. There are international aviation standards in place that do not exclude Nigerian operators. Given that the country’s airlines are members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global aviation body, it is the responsibility of government ministries and agencies to ensure adherence to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) mandated passenger rights (ICAO).
Given the history of aviation in Nigeria, we believe that these stern warnings to airlines and a reminder to passengers of their rights are appropriate, even if late in coming. Airlines have been delaying and canceling flights for many hours, with no restitution, refunds, or apologies in some cases, which has been extremely frustrating for Nigerian air passengers in recent years. The majority of airlines have been acting as though there are no restrictions governing their operations.
Most travelers prefer air transportation because of its claimed safety and the necessity to save time compared to other modes of transportation such as road and rail. The majority of travelers travel for very time-sensitive programs such as healthcare, business, exams, or any other issue with a set of deadlines. When their time calculations are interrupted by delays and cancellations, the majority of which are not due to natural events such as weather or other factors beyond man’s control, it is only fair that they be reimbursed and apologised for when mere apologies are sufficient.
In Nigeria, airlines have taken advantage of the agencies’ and ministries’ inadequate supervision obligations to treat passengers with total contempt and disrespect. Various instances have occurred at airports, with disgruntled passengers engaging in violent confrontations with airport workers or engaging in extremely disorderly behavior out of pure exasperation. These scenes defy the norms and the expected atmosphere that airports all over the world are expected to maintain. This portrays the country in a poor image to visitors and causes travellers to become agitated.
Passengers, on the other hand, must begin to take their own convenience and rights more seriously by reading the notices on their tickets and on airport notice boards. In most situations, national aviation organizations, such as the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), provide complaint desks where passengers can go if their flight is disrupted or they experience other difficulties as a result of the operating airlines’ negligence. This is a chance that passengers should take advantage of.
Due to the laxity of most regulatory bodies and ministries, the situation in the aviation industry in terms of passenger rights is reproduced in other sectors. A working system is frequently an unbroken chain of all parties’ efficiency. Nigerians are among the world’s most well-traveled people, and they must be afforded all of the rights that they are entitled to in the aviation business, as well as elsewhere. Passengers are the lifeblood of any company.