The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) are collaborating to seek redress for students of Glisten International College, Abuja, from Turkish Airlines over their delayed flight from Houston, USA, to Abuja.
The Director General, Consumer Protection Council, Mr. Babatunde Irukera disclosed this at a forum with representatives of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in Abuja.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, CPC and NCAA said they had opened an inquiry into why the airline delayed the students’ flight from Houston to Istanbul by two hours and why it was negligent in meeting its responsibilities when the students had missed their connecting flight from Istanbul to Abuja.
The Director General of the CPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, said the 22 students had attended a Lego Competition in the United States and had hoped to return to Nigeria by Turkish Airlines, which was scheduled to do a stopover at Istanbul for the students to take a connecting flight to Abuja. He said that the delay in Houston, Texas, ultimately resulted in the students missing their connecting flight to Abuja, and it was required of the airline, in line with global best practices, to take responsibility of the students’ accommodation and feeding while in Istanbul.
Mr. Irukera asserted that “it was expected that Turkish Airline, as a matter of law and as a matter of responsibility, would take the responsibility to protect these young people and make appropriate provisions but the report we have from Glisten School, which is the school where the students come from, is that when they arrived at Istanbul, Turkish Airline had not made any arrangement in respect to their continued connection to Abuja”.
Speaking further, he said that “Rules required that the airline would have taken responsibility for that, however, that didn’t happen. These minors and their chaperons were asked to pay to secure a visa to be able to enter Turkey, and at some point, every single one of them had to pay a forty dollars fee just to be able to exit the staging area which is the gate area of the airport.”
The Director General stated that the Council was collaborating with relevant agencies to ensure that consumer rights were no longer taken for granted, adding that “one of the things the CPC is coming up with is an expanded interactive complaint portal.”
“Sooner than later we intend to deploy a mobile application that allows you to complain, essentially what we will do is to make sure that expressing your grievances is not only at no cost but at an extremely convenient manner,” Irukera stated.
On his part, the Director, Consumer Protection Department of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Alhaji Adamu Abdullahi explained that an investigation into this incident was underway.
In his words, “it is according to the regulations of the NCAA that this flight terminates in Nigeria so therefore we have jurisdiction over how passengers on that flight are treated so that is their responsibility and we will ensure that we get to the bottom of it, and find out what it is that happened and the relevant compensations when and if they are applicable will have to be paid and sanctions where applicable will also have to be paid by the airline.”
Alhaji Abdullahi said that the NCAA would collaborate with the CPC to ensure that the affected students obtained redress, pointing out that the airline had been notified, enquiries sought and the responses to these enquiries would determine both agencies’ next line of action.
Both agencies reiterated their commitment to protecting consumers in the aviation sector and urged consumers to always complain to the necessary authorities whenever they feel their rights have been abused.