The Consumer Protection Council has ordered Aero Contractors to pay monetary compensation to passengers of its flight AJ132, who were left stranded at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on November 8, 2013.
According to the CPC, the flight, which was supposed to convey 135 passengers to Lagos, failed to take off at the scheduled time of 6pm and the passengers were delayed for 15 hours till 9am the following day.
The council added that about 39 of the passengers were stranded overnight at the airport, while others were provided alternative flights.
The Director-General, CPC, Mrs. Dupe Atoki, while addressing journalists in Lagos on Monday, said the council after three hearings held between December 17, 2013 and February 6, 2014, and other investigations, was giving the airline 30 days to pay the affected passengers and report back to it or face serious sanctions.
“The aviation industry is global in nature, hence operators are obliged to synchronise their operations with global best practices of strict adherence to rules and regulations, and respect for consumer protection,” she said.
The council said that in line with the Passenger Bill of Rights developed by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the passengers should be paid N5,000 for snacks and drinks due to them after one hour of delay, and meals and drinks due after two hours of delay.
Other payments include N1,000 for two free telephone calls, SMS or email; N10,000 for return transportation to and from hotel accommodation in Abuja; N25,000 for one night of hotel accommodation, and 25 per cent of the passengers’ ticket values for the cancellation of the flight without notice.
Apart from the payment, the council has also ordered the airline to present written assurances that it will refrain from any conduct that will be detrimental to the interest of consumers within 30 days.
Atoki said the council made the recommendations in order to assuage the affected consumers and institute the adoption of international best practices in handling consumer issues.
She said, “To this effect, Aero Contractors should review and submit to the council within 90 days, its disruption and crisis management manual in line with the PBR; establish platforms in each airport in Nigeria and other locations to facilitate on-the-spot resolution of consumer complaints and report to the council within 180 days.
“The airline must also develop and submit to the council within 30 days a prototype statement in respect of payment of the relevant refunds and compensations when flights are cancelled without notice.”
The council also ordered Aero to present within 30 days, a prototype statement that would be presented to passengers at check-in counters in respect of payment refunds and compensation in case of a class downgrade in the aircraft.
Adoki said the decision came on the heels of the airline’s failure to make its responses within the stipulated time after it was requested to furnish the council with a report on the incident within seven days in a letter dated November 14, 2013, and other notices served on it.
“The order of notice has been served on Aero Contractors. It is worth noting that disobedience to the order of the council is punishable upon conviction, with three years’ jail terms or a fine,” she said.
When contacted, a spokesperson for the airline, Mr. Simon Tumba, said Aero Contractors had yet to receive any official notification from the CPC on the issue.
“Once the airline gets a notification, it will make its comment on the issue,” he said.