Arik Air has accused the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) of acting in bad faith over its decision to impose a N6 million fine on the airline for its alleged poor handling of passengers’ luggage from London.
The airline said the official communication procedure to respond to the alleged infraction has not been fully explored before the regulator went public with its decision.
In its reaction, Arik Air’s spokesman, Banji Ola, said NCAA’s action of publicising the letter before the airline had an opportunity to formally respond by the deadline stated in the letter, was unprofessional.
He said NCAA had invited the management of the airline to an informal meeting on Friday, December 16 where it explained the circumstances leading to the sequence of events and detailed the efforts it made to recover the luggage.
Ola said the carrier did everything possible to ensure that the London passengers got their baggage in good time.
He said: “When the airline’s wide body A330-200 aircraft was damaged by a ground handling truck, it deployed a B737-800 on the London route to minimise the disruption to the passengers. All passengers checking in from London were given a letter informing them of the capacity limitation and weight restriction on the aircraft type, and advised that some of their baggage would be delayed because of this and transported on the next available flight with capacity.
”All passengers were accepted on to the flight based on this understanding. However, after arriving Lagos, some of them formed pressure groups and took the laws into their own hands, disrupting the operations of the airline, assaulting the airline’s employees and destroying its property. Some of the airline’s employees were beaten and hospitalised and some of them are still receiving medical treatment as of date.”
Ola said in order to address the reduction in capacity and backlog of baggage, the carrier leased another wide bodied A340-300 aircraft to complement its B737-800 aircraft to ensure the delayed baggage got back to Lagos in good time, adding that some of the passengers disrupted their operations for several days thereby making it impossible for the aircraft to operate from Lagos and return from London Heathrow before the night curfew, which further prevented the short landed bags from being recovered.
Ola said that the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) security, did nothing to prevent the passengers from disrupting the airline’s operations, or in providing adequate security to the airline and its personnel to enable the flights to leave on time thereby preventing a quicker resolution in the recovery of luggage.