NCAA fines Arik N6m over ‘poor handling’ of luggage
Air travel apex regulatory body, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has fined Arik Air N6 million for the violation of aviation rules in the recent poor handling of luggage belonging to some London passengers.
NCAA also mandated the airline to pay the affected passengers the statutory $150 (about N60,000) as compensation for the inconveniences within the next 30 days.
The Guardian learnt that Arik Air between December 2 and 4 brought scores of passengers from London to Lagos without their checked-in luggage.
NCAA yesterday said the action contravened the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs), coupled with alleged lack of compassion for the affected passengers by the airline.
General Manager, Public Relations of the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said upon the receipt of complaints, the agency invited Arik to a meeting on December 6, 2016 with a directive to immediately address the issues.
Adurogboye added: “However, Arik embarked on continuous flouting of the Nig.CARs and the authority’s directives to freight all backlogs of short-landed baggage to Lagos within 48 hours.
“Similarly, the carrier declined to offer care and compensation to the affected passengers, which were unanimously agreed for $150.”
He added that the airline also did not inform the passengers at the soonest practicable time that their checked-in baggage would be off-loaded as required by Part 19.7.2 of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) 2015.
“Consequent upon these, the following sanctions suffice: Arik Air Limited to pay to the Authority within seven days of receipt of this letter, the sum of N6,000,000.00 being civil penalty for violation of Part.19.7.2 of the Nig.CARs, 2015.”
Arik, however, blamed the development on the use of a smaller aircraft, a Boeing 737-800 to operate the Lagos-London Heathrow route due to maintenance on the wide-body A330-200 aircraft frequently used on the route.
The spokesperson of the airline, Banji Ola explained that the airline’s Airbus A330-200 aircraft was hit by a handling company at John F Kennedy International Airport New York on December 1, 2016 which led to the B737-800 to be deployed on the Lagos-London route.
According to him: “In order to avoid a cancellation of the Lagos-London Heathrow flights, an alternative B737-800 aircraft had to be allocated on the route to minimise the inconvenience to passengers.
“The airline was constrained in capacity from a wide-body A330-200 aircraft to a narrow-body B737-800 aircraft and thus had to leave some of the passengers’ baggage behind in London.
“Passengers were, however, duly informed of this capacity restriction at the check-in desk at London Heathrow Airport and were advised of the possibility that some of their baggage will have to be sent on subsequent flights as per space availability.”