The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) suspendend Turkish Airlines from operating in the country after the airline’s involvement in persistent baggage delays and several mob actions by affected passengers.
Ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebrations when airports record increased passenger movements, the NCAA took the action to guide against any mob action over baggage delays during the busy periods.
The regulatory authority in a letter dated December 11 slammed the suspension on the foreign airline with effect from December 16, saying the operation would remain suspended until the airline is ready to operate into the country with the right aircraft size and bring passengers into the country together with their checked-in baggage.
The letter NCAA/ DG/12/16/60 directed to the airline’s Country Manager and signed by the Acting Director-General, Captain Abdullahi Sidi said the Turkish Airlines have been having baggage backlog for the past two weeks.
According to the letter, the incessant baggage delays have caused crisis followed by mob actions as the airline arrives without 85 pe cent of passengers’ baggage.
The letter in part read, “The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) wishes to extend its compliments to Turkish Airlines and also express its serious displeasure about the recent cases of not bringing passengers into Nigeria together with their checked-in baggage.”
It would be recalled that in January 2016, many passengers invaded the tarmac at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja when Turkish Airlines flight arrived without their luggages. The agitated passengers prevented the aircraft from departing; the development considered as a gross security breach.
The Federal Government at the time suspended the Airport Manager and Senior officers of the airport for the invasion.
But despite the security breach, sources said Turkish Airlines have failed to resolve the baggage delays creating series of mob actions at the airport.
The problem is also not peculiar to only Turkish Airlines as most foreign carriers are said to be culprits. Our correspondent reports that no fewer than 4000 baggages are either delayed or missing monthly according to the summary of complaints received on International flights.
A source said with the suspension, Nigeria has sent a strong signal to other airlines to sit up. It was learnt that the problems recurs because the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) Nigeria signed with many countries to operate into the country did not specify the type of aircraft they can bring. So most of the airlines do not have a specific aircraft type, he said.
Findings by Daily Trust on Sunday however indicate that the airline had responded to the letter by requesting a meeting with the NCAA.
According to the Turkish Airlines letter sighted by our correspondent, the airline has promised to deploy bigger aircraft henceforth and that no baggage would be left behind.
The airline said it would be deploying only A330 and 737-900 aircraft. According to the schedule released, the airline yesterday deployed A330 aircraft to Abuja which the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika confirmed in a tweet on Saturday morning.
An aviation expert, Alex Nwuba said the suspension would force the airline to take actions to resolve the situation.
He said, “This has serious implications for the season given the sheer number of tickets Turkish must have sold by now. But it also forces their hand to do something about the situation before it gets ridiculous. It is pure deception to sell a product you cannot deliver and this product is undeliverable. I applaud the NCAA for their responsible action.”
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