CPC summons Arik Air for infringing on passengers’ rights

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*Arumemi-Ikhide Photo credit: The Afritraveller

The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has summoned Arik Air to answer questions relating to rights infringement leveled against it by its customers.

The summons followed complaints of alleged ill-treatment of the airline’s passengers on recent London-Lagos flights.

In the summons, CPC asked the airline’s chief executive officer, Mr. Michael Arumemi-Ikhide, the chief operating officer, Mr. Conor Prendergast as well as the managing director, Mr. Chris Ndulue, to appear before it December on 19, 2016.

The Council stated that it received “complaints/information from the public and passengers on board Arik Air flights from London to Lagos between December 2 and 5, 2016 alleging that the flights arrived at the Murtala Muhammed Airport…without the passengers’ luggage and without prior information.”

“The passengers, many of whom had connecting flights to Cameroon, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Ibadan could not continue their journeys as a result of the non-arrival of their luggage from London, while some passengers on the said flights could not have access to personal supplies, baby food or medication.

“Arik Air Ltd did not provide the passengers with temporary accommodation for transit; neither was there any customer service desk to assist the passengers in resolving their individual complaints,” said CPC.

It further stated that it issued the summons in line with sections 8, 15 and 18 of its (CPC’s) enabling Act.

It would be recalled that since December 3, the airline has had issues with its passengers who were flown from London but they could not get their luggage when they arrived in Lagos.

The airline’s spokesman, Mr. Ola Adebanji had explained that it was constrained to use a smaller aircraft, a Boeing 737-800, to operate the Lagos-London Heathrow route due to maintenance on the wide-body aircraft, A330-200 aircraft that plies that route.

He said apart from the maintenance carried out on the aircraft, one of the carrier’s’ A330-200 aircraft was hit by a handling company at John F Kennedy International Airport New York hence its resort to deploying the B737-800 on the Lagos-London route.

“In order to avoid cancellation of the Lagos-London Heathrow flights, an alternative B737-800 aircraft had to be allocated on the route to minimize the inconvenience to booked 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,” he said.

Following the faceoff between Arik and the passengers, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had directed the airline to pay a compensation of $150 to each passenger whose luggage was yet to arrive in Lagos from London Heathrow Airport since December 3.

The directive was given even after the airline had negotiated to pay each passenger $50 instead of $150 stipulated by the Montreal Convention of 1999

NCAA’s director of consumer protection directorate, Mr. Abdullahi Adamu said while addressing the affected passengers at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos that the airline was made to pay the compensation for its inability to bring the passengers’ luggage within 48 hours after their flight arrived in Lagos.

In addition, the agency directed the airline to bring the remainder of the passengers’ luggage within the next 24 hours.

“The compensation for delayed luggage according to Montreal Convention of 1999 is $150. Arik has failed in its duty because that compensation should have come the moment the passengers landed without their bags,” he said.

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