…Says aviation authorities are good at applying sanctions hastily
Arik Air has appealed to the armed forces, Nigeria Police Force, Directorate of Security Services and aviation security personnel of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to protect the airline and its personnel from unwarranted passenger attacks.
The appeal followed the airline’s allegation that some passengers attacked its personnel and disrupted its operations at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport on Wednesday and Thursday (January 4th and 5th).
The airline’s spokesman, Mr. Adebanji Ola said in a we-cannot-take-it-any-longer manner that the resort to verbal or physical violence in any form by a passenger “is not acceptable to Arik Air and the airline would henceforth deploy all measures necessary against any passenger who takes the law into their hands.”
He stated that “the severity and frequencies of such criminal acts are on the rise due to lack of appropriate action or preventative measures from the security agencies.”
Ola said security at the airports ought to be improved to guide against unwarranted and uncalled for assaults on airline personnel and passengers. However, he regretted that both the security agencies and airport authorities had not been alive to their responsibilities except when the issue has to do with applying sanctions.
“Despite repeated appeals and calls for intervention on numerable occasions, the airport authorities and security agencies have done nothing to protect the lives of staff and property of Arik Air in the wake of these attacks.
“The same authorities are however spontaneous in sanctioning the airlines whenever there is a service disruption without providing adequate support or security to prevent passengers from disrupting the service in the first instance,” he said.
The spokesman threatened that “Arik Air will also pursue legal action and engage local and foreign security agencies including private security firms to investigate identify and prosecute to the full extent of the law all of those passengers in Nigeria and overseas, involved in the attacks against our personnel and property.
Ola traced the recent attacks to delays in the take off of internationals flights which he said were caused by the shortage of aviation fuel.
In his narrative, he said: “On Wednesday, 4 January, 2017, our Lagos-New York JFK service which was to operate at 11:30 pm had to be rescheduled by 24 hours to operate at 11:30 pm on Thursday, 5 January, 2017 due to the shortage in supply of aviation fuel by the major fuel marketers.
“Our Lagos-Johannesburg service and Lagos- Accra service were also on ground awaiting fuel while the Lagos-New York service was standing by for fuel.
“Arik Air pursued all possible options to source fuel for the international flights on 4 January, 2017 but when our customer service manager at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos approached the passengers to explain the situation to them, one of the passengers chased and attacked him.
“This was followed by a mob of passengers who brutally beat, kicked and chased the Arik Air staff throughout the terminal building leading to the Immigration Section of the terminal. The staff was later rushed to the hospital where he was treated for injuries sustained during this reckless and inhuman attack.
“Arik Air managed to source a small quantity of fuel and despite eventually sorting out the departure of the Johannesburg service, some of the passengers from the affected services damaged the check-in counters, check-in systems and equipment, preventing the airline from being able to service or checking-in passengers on 5 January, 2017.
“Again on 5 January, 2017 some of the passengers continued to disrupt the airline’s check-in process by preventing Arik Air staff from performing their duties by sleeping on the conveyor belts, sleeping or sitting on the floor in the check-in area and forcibly occupying the airline’s ticketing and administrative offices, resulting in the cancellation of some of the international flights, including the Lagos-London Heathrow-Lagos service.”
He expressed dismay that “all the security agencies in the country cannot ensure or guarantee the safety of our personnel when on duty across the various airports in the country.”
Ola appealed to its passengers to be civil and refrain from such disruptive and unlawful actions that risk the lives of airline staff and those of fellow passengers.
“Arik Air is fully committed to the safety and security of its passengers, staff and assets and will do all possible within its means to pursue and prosecute to the full extent of the law, all perpetrators of such criminal acts against the airline,” he said.