By Frank Tietie, Executive Director and Lead Counsel, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER)
On the 30th of December, 2018, Airpeace cancels a flight after I had confirmed from an Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) official in Benin Airport that the weather is clear for flights from Lagos to Benin and from Benin to Abuja.
30 minutes after my encounter with the NCAA official, an Arik Flight from Lagos touches ground at Benin Airport and commences boarding and eventually takes off to Abuja.
Yet Airpeace maintains that it couldn’t fly as a result of bad weather. The manager refuses to give details about the next available Airpeace flight to Abuja.
Airpeace sends an email to me apologizing for cancelling its flight and requests that I call to reschedule for another flight.
Airpeace cancels its flight and places the responsibility on me to spend my money to call to know when it will fly again to Abuja. It is not even definite on its flight next schedule.
So I call the customer care line and it plays music until it fades after nine minutes. No agent answered, apart from the computer programmed voice.
So I got an airport taxi after waiting for five hours at the Benin Airport to search for a hotel. I got one and paid to sleep over again in Benin City, having travelled three hours from Auchi the previous day.
So Airpeace thinks it doesn’t owe me any responsibility because I am a citizen of Nigeria? What a joke!
Can an airline cancel a flight on its will and uses the weather as an excuse even when the weather is sufficiently clear and certified so by NCAA and Google weather?
Which authority determines whether the weather is safe to fly? NIMET, NCAA or the airline?
And when an airline decides otherwise not to fly despite the clear and safe weather, shouldn’t it bear some consequences and responsibilities to the stranded passengers?
Now, the Lord God willing I live, NCAA and NIMET must give its report on this matter. Let’s know who is on the side of the people.
Consumer Protection Council (CPC) will also give its position on this.
And finally I am meeting Airpeace with NCAA in court whether or not anyone chooses to join me in a class action when I am done with the NCAA. regulations.
We already know our political and official oppressors. They may appear too gargantuan for now to take on but I won’t further accept some company refusing to take corporate responsibility by taking advantage of a weak regulatory environment and an extremely docile populace.
I am going to the Airport again this morning. I need answers. This has gone far beyond the N27,200 I paid for the flight. It is about my dignity as a Nigerian citizen and I want to know whether or not it still exists. I am not backing down. Enough of oppression in this land.
This nonsense must end!
As a first step, I have just briefed the NCAA officials at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport about the poor treatment meted to me by Air Peace on the 30th of December, 2018. I have just filled the NCAA complaints form and I am headed to my office to write the details also to be submitted to the Director of consumer protection, NCAA.
I am demanding compensation and the determination of the consequences and responsibilities of a unilateral cancellation of flights by a Nigerian airline.
By this, I am launching “This Nonsense Must Stop” initiative to encourage fellow citizens to challenge any bad treatment from government or company officials.
This is just the beginning.
This Nonsense must Stop!