The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Wednesday directed Arik Air to compensate owners of delayed baggage with $150 each for their troubles.
The authority also gave the airline 24-hour ultimatum to return all delayed baggage of its passengers from London to Lagos within the next 24 hours, as passengers continue to express their displeasure over the incident five days after their flight landed in Nigeria.
This directive was issued by Director, Consumer Complaints Department (NCAA), Mr Adamu Abdullahi.
The airline and no fewer than 40 passengers had been at loggerheads over the non-arrival of their baggage, five days after their flight landed in Nigeria.
The aggrieved passengers had, on Tuesday, disrupted the airline’s operations and also allegedly damaged its check-in counter at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
Addressing the passengers, Abdullahi appealed to them to remain calm as both Arik Air and the aviation authorities were working towards resolving the issue.
“NCAA has directed Arik Air to pay each and every passenger a compensation of $150 each in line with civil aviation rules and regulations in Nigeria.
“We have sent the letter to the airline and it also contains a directive that every bag must be here within the next 24 hours.
“A directive is a directive and we will hold Arik Air management responsible, and I can assure you that they will abide by the directive,” Abdullahi said.
He advised them against taking the laws into their own hands, stressing that there are laid down procedures to be followed in resolving such issues.
This situation has brought chaotic situations to already charged atmosphere at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) as Arik Air’s passengers to London Heathrow Airport have been stranded at the airport.
Passengers who were supposed to depart to London could not be airlifted by the airline, as passengers with delayed baggage had grounded operations, disallowing airlifting of passenger until their baggage return.
Wife of one of the affected passengers whose family had been troubled back in London, Mrs Mary Ojo, sharing the family’s experience with Nigerian Tribune via an email message expressed displeasure over the matter.
According to her, “My husband is in Nigeria presently and was meant to had return back to London yesterday (Tuesday) 6th December 2016.
“He was told Arik Air misplaced the luggage of its passengers that it flew to Lagos on Saturday 3rd December 2016. The affected passengers would not allow Arik Air to check in their customers that are meant to return to London yesterday (Tuesday).
“I spoke to the Arik Air Customer Service several times yesterday (Tuesday) and they assured me that the matter will be resolved today (Wednesday) and it will be flying its customers from yesterday and today back to London. I was also assured they have enough space for the customers since they do not have many customers for today.
However, Mrs Ojo said Arik Air failed on its promise. “It still has not met with its angry customers who will not allow anything to function for the airline.
“My husband and the group of customers that were meant to return yesterday and today are left stranded. There are children and elderly among these group of people. One would also find people with medical issues. Its customers cannot go back to their various places of work as in the case of my husband or go about their businesses. However Airk Air has made some profits on these ones.
“I have being making calls to the Arik Air Customer Services but I cannot get through. I have raised this alarm because this is unacceptable in any part of the world.”
Two of the passengers who also spoke to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Ifeanyi Uchendu and Mr Johnson Agwu, berated the airline for the shabby treatment of the passengers.
According to them, the airline had earlier promised them that their bags would arrive latest on Tuesday and also they would receive compensation of N50,000. but failed to keep to its words.
But to assure passengers of their well being, also speaking on the situation, Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr Saleh Dunoma, urged those who needed medical attention to visit the FAAN clinic within the airport.
NAN quoted Dunoma to have said that the doctors had been directed to issue prescription drugs to passengers whose medications had yet to arrive the country due to the delay.
Speaking on behalf of the Arik Air, its Associate Vice President, Ground Operations Department, Mr Femi Kukoyi, apologised to the passengers for the inconvenience caused by the incident.
Kukoyi said the airline had to charter an aircraft which brought some of the baggage to Lagos on Wednesday morning because the passengers prevented it from operating its A330 aircraft on Tuesday.
He assured them that an aircraft was en-route Lagos from London and would arrive with about 300 bags by 7:00pm while the remaining would be brought in by another of its aircraft by 5.am on Thursday.
On the issue of compensation, he said Arik Air would attend to them on an individual basis and expressed optimism that everything would be resolved amicably.