Airlines association berates NASS over flight delay, cancellation comment.
Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) on Thursday in Ikeja expressed dismay over comments credited to the National Assembly Joint Committees on Aviation, accusing airlines of flight delays and cancelations without compensation.
Chairmen, Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Aviation, Sen. Smart Adeyemi and Hon. Nnolim Nnaji, respectively, had earlier alleged that airlines delayed flights for four hours to nine hours without paying adequate compensation.
Adeyemi and Nnaji had said that should the local carriers failed to sit up, foreign airlines would be invited to operate domestic flights.
In its reaction, however, AON’s president, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa, stated that such comments only served to aggravate sentiments and sent out the wrong message to the general public.
He noted that commercial airlines globally, Nigeria inclusive, were set up with strict adherence to flight schedules.
He said the schedules were put in place for the benefit of passengers, and to allow for the maximum use of aircraft to meet up with operators’ laid-out targets and ensure safety and sustainability.
“It is not in the interest of any airline, whether in Nigeria or anywhere else, to delay or cancel flights as this has severe financial and image consequences.
“For these reasons, delays and cancellations are, therefore, the last thing any airline wants.
“While flight delays and cancellations occur all over the world, it is instructive to note that in Nigeria, 80 per cent of delays and cancellations are due to factors outside the control of airlines or caused by them.
“This is why AON invites the public to be aware that airlines in Nigeria operate in an environment wrought with infrastructure deficiencies that are highly disruptive to normal schedule reliability and on-time performance.
“Any airline in the world operating under the domestic Nigerian circumstances will be bogged down by delays that they have no control over,’’ he stressed.
Yunusa listed some causes of delays and flight cancellations to include weather and inadequate parking space due to congested aprons.
Others, he stated, are restrictions caused by sunset airports, delays due to VIP movements and frequent bird strikes.
He said there were other ‘systemic’ issues that limited the ability of domestic airlines to operate seamlessly and efficiently, which included unavailability and ever rising cost of Aviation Fuel – JetA1.
According to him, others are unavailability of FOREX for spare parts and maintenance, delays by Customs Department in clearing of safety-critical spare parts.
Yunusa also lamented poor air traffic flow, inadequate Check-in Counters, inadequate screening and exit points at departure and low passenger and baggage screening capacity.
He also blamed inadequate and unreliable ground services equipment for boarding and disembarkation of passengers, unruly behaviour of passengers and failure to obey rules for flight delays and cancelations.
The association’s president added that inadequate runway lights, unforeseen circumstances due to component failures and ground accidents could also be responsible for flight delays and cancelations.
Yunusa stressed that flight delays and cancellations would reduce by 80 per cent immediately relevant agencies attended to “fixable’’ reasons.