Passengers Bill of Rights: Passengers to claim compensation for flight delays, cancellations

By The Citizen

From August 2013, foreign and domestic airlines operating in the country will pay heavy fines and compensations for flight delays, cancellations, lost baggage and other related anomalies which are covered in the Passengers Bill of Rights.

The Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Dr. Fola Akinkuotu, made the disclosure at an open forum held at the NCAA's office in Lagos on Thursday.

He said the Passengers Bill of Right would be circulated to all stakeholders in the sector before the end of this month.

'The Passengers Bill of Rights will come into effect before the end of July; the passengers and airline operators will get to know their rights and obligations. The regulator will just sit to make sure there is compliance,' Akinkuotu said.

The NCAA boss said it was high time airline operators stopped maltreating their passengers, adding that the implementation of the bill of rights would help put an end to unfair practices by airlines.

He gave an assurance that the regulatory body would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that both passengers and airlines were given enough information about the bill within the next two to three weeks.

Akinkuotu added, 'It is not good for passengers to get raw deals from the airlines. What is sauce for the geese is also sauce for the gander. We have a responsibility to ensure that the bill of rights works.

'We need to make sure passengers get good deals and value for their money. We need to let them know that air transport is the best way to go, and that they will get good deals and value for money.'

The bill of rights was first introduced to stakeholders early last year in Lagos.

NCAA had said then that the new set of rights applied to passengers departing from an airport located within the Nigerian territory to another airport within the country; passengers departing from an airport located in another country to an airport situated within Nigeria; and to foreign air transportation with respect to non-stop flight segments originating at a point within the country.

The regulatory body, however, noted that the new regulations would not apply to passengers travelling free of charge or at reduced fares not available directly or indirectly to the general public.

It said the rule would apply to passengers having tickets issued under a frequent flyer programme or other commercial programmes by an air carrier or tour operator.

Akinkuotu, in his first public appearance after his confirmation as the new DG of NCAA, said he would work with the airlines operators if they followed the rules.

He said the regulatory body would have a human face, just as it would not tolerate any unlawful act from any operator or service provider.

Akinkuotu and his team assured operators at the open forum that NCAA would do everything possible to move the sector forward.

The DG also said the agency would make the process of registering aircraft in the country easier.