Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Stop maltreating Nigerians, FG warns foreign airlines

The Federal Government on Monday warned international airlines to stop treating in-bound and out-bound Nigerian passengers with disdain. It also announced that the international terminal of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport would be completed before the end of this year.The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said there would be dire consequences for airline operators who treat Nigerians shabbily, especially on international operations. Sirika gave the warning when a delegation from the Emirates Group paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Abuja.
A statement issued by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Affairs in the ministry quoted Sirika as telling his guests that the government would not condone the practice of subjecting Nigerians to all forms of suffering like making them to walk across long distances before boarding or using small aircraft that lack the capacity to carry the travellers along with their luggage to their destinations.
The warning was prompted by the recent action of Turkish Airlines, after it brought in passengers from Istanbul to Abuja on two occasions without their luggage.
Some of the angry passengers on one of the flights invaded the tarmac of the NAIA in protest against the airline, resulting into a serious security breach.
The statement noted that Sirika informed the visiting group that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority had been directed to invoke all relevant laws to protect the interest and rights of Nigerians and others from being flagrantly abused by airlines.
He, however, assured the operators of the Federal Government’s commitment to the complete overhaul and upgrading of the nation’s airport facilities to make the use of Nigeria’s airspace a delightful experience.
On the ongoing construction of the second terminal at the NAIA, the minister gave an assurance that the facility would be ready before the end of the year, stating that its completion would improve the comfort and convenience of both the airline operators and the flying public.
The Vice President, Aeropolitical and Industry Affairs, Emirate Group, Mr. David Broz, pledged the group’s commitment to serve Nigeria better, describing the country as the airline’s second biggest market in Africa.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Air Transport Employees has threatened to ground the operations of Aero Contractors Airline and prevent it from flying any of its aircraft out of the Lagos airport from today (Tuesday).
The Secretary General, NUATE, Mr. Olayinka Abioye, made the threat on Monday after leading a workers’ protest to the office of the airline in Lagos.
The protest was to register the workers’ displeasure over the airline management’s decision to sack some of its employees who are union leaders, describing the action as “insensitive and anti-labour.”
NUATE urged the management to re-instate the union leaders without delay, stating that it was firmly behind the sacked leaders and their co-workers.
It also urged the Federal Government to probe activities of the airline, alleging that the firm had mismanaged funds granted it by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria to reposition it.
However, the management of the airline has reported the association to the Ministry of Labour and Productivity Ministry, Aviation ministry, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and the Department of State Services, asking them to look into the matter.
The Acting Managing Director and Chief Executive, Aero Contractors, Iyene Amapakabo, called on the authorities to check the unwholesome practice of the union because of its serious safety implications on the airline’s operations.