By Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have condemned attacks on airline staff and facilities at the various airports by passengers over flight delays or cancellations, saying they will no longer allow the attacks to go on unrestrained.
In a statement, the association said it feels the pain and frustration of travellers over delayed or cancelled flights due to the disruptions such bring to their plans but that no airline deliberately delays or cancels flights because the aircraft is meant to be in the air and not on the ground, which is a huge loss to operators and impacts negatively on the nation’s economy.
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It further said that airline staff have rights and can use available legal means to enforce those rights and seek redress and that going forward, members may have to explore the legal option.
“Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has observed with serious concern, the trend of violent attacks on airline staff and facilities at the various airports by passengers over flight delays or cancellation.
We are concerned that these violent attacks have gone on unrestrained across major airports across the country and therefore, strongly, and without equivocation, condemns them and call for immediate cessation.
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“We feel the pain and frustration of travellers over delayed or cancelled flights due to the disruptions such bring to their plans, and make good to remind the travelling public that no airline operator deliberately delays or cancels flights because the aircraft is meant to be in the air and not on the ground.
Aircraft on the 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. 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 cause of flight delays. They are also human beings, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters working to earn a living and put food on the table for their families.
“Violent attacks on airline staff, occasioning physical harm, is not a civilised way for passengers to register their disappointments over flight delays or cancellations. There are better ways to do this which are also spelt out by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in its manuals. Passengers 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.
“We, therefore, use this medium to call on the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), to improve security across the airports especially, as it relates to the 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 an immediate end to 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,” the statement read.