The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has commended the decision of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to suspend Turkish Airlines.
The Chief Executive Officer of the consumer protection agency, Babatunde Irukera, said in a statement on Sunday that the decision will serve as a wake up call on all airlines in Nigeria, both local and international, on the quality of services, particularly the handling of passengers.
On December 13, the NCAA suspended the operations of Turkish Airlines in Nigeria on account of poor treatment of passengers and a very inefficient approach to timely delivery of baggage to travelers.
The management of Turkish Airlines has since met with their counterpart in the NCAA to pledge its commitment to make amends.
The General Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said the management of the airline had met with the NCAA management in Abuja on Friday to resolve the leftover baggage issue.
“The airline said this will be achieved by instantly upgrading the Boeing 737 – 800 being used and found inadequate to a larger Airbus A330 and Boeing 737 – 900.
“The programme of clearance will commence with the immediate freighting of all leftover passengers’ baggage in Turkey to Nigeria from December 13 to 17,” he said.
Mr Adurogboye said the NCAA expects strict compliance to the remedial programme.
But, the FCCPC said the strong and decisive action by NCAA against the airline was in order, considering the history of incessant and unabating complaints about the airline’s treatment of passengers.
The consumer protection agency said the lack of sufficient attention by the airline to mitigate these mistreatments and reverse the trend was regrettable.
“A fundamental plank and mutual commitment under Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) is respect for local laws and maintaining appropriate standards, not just as a matter of aircraft airworthiness and safe operations, but also how passengers are treated.
“Sadly, Turkish Airlines has remained insensitive and unyielding to repeated regulatory intervention and oversight to modify its behavior.
“The vexatious multiple issues of delays, cancellations and baggage handling continue to be the highlights of passenger complaints, whether international or domestic travel. These undermine confidence, and the full potential of the aviation sector.
“This response by NCAA is certain to address this particular airline’s conduct, but even more importantly, send a clear message to other airlines, including domestic, that regulators are not unwilling to utilise the regulatory tools at their disposal to promote and ensure fair treatment of consumers,” the agency said.
Mr Irukera said the FCCPC will continue its record of strong collaboration with the NCAA, by providing useful feedback to support an enduring approach to regulatory action, where necessary, to improve passenger experience.
He said the FCCPC noted the timely response of Turkish Airlines and constructive discussions between them and NCAA, and looks forward to the improved services promised by Turkish Airlines.
He identified the areas the commission expects to see improvements to include changing the current equipment from a B737-800 to an A330 and alternately, a B737-900.
“We expect that, in addition to more appropriate and befitting equipment, Turkish Airlines will implement a more sensitive and responsive approach to passengers,” he said.