The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended Turkish Airlines from operating into Nigeria, over persistent baggage delays. The indefinite suspension becomes effective December 16.
NCAA director-general, Abdullahi Sidi, announced this on Thursday, through a letter released by the director of public affairs at the Ministry of Aviation, James Odaudu.
The decision was necessitated by incessant cases of delays and loss of baggage by the airline passengers. The situation was attributed to the use of undersized aircraft by the Turkish Airline.
The letter noted that the airlines’ inability to deliver passengers’ luggage has become a crisis that the aviation regulator can no longer afford to ignore. In the most recent incident, the airline arrived Nigeria without 85% of passengers luggage, added to the backlog that the Turkish Air is already dealing with.
In the letter written to the airline, dated December 11, 2019, the NCAA warned Turkish Air that their operations in Nigeria will come to a halt effective December 16, and will remain so until it sought out all outstanding cases of luggage loss and change the size of its aeroplanes to accommodate both passengers and their luggage.
The letter reads: “The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) wishes to extend its compliments to Turkish Airlines and also express its serious displeasure about the recent cases of not bringing passengers into Nigeria together with their check-in baggage.
“These incidents, which have been going on for two weeks, have become so bad that the most recent flight arrived without 85% of passengers’ baggage on board. Our Airport Authority has been facing serious crises controlling the passengers at the airport whenever they arrive without their baggage.
“This issue has made passengers to carry out several mob actions at our airport and it is a great threat to our airport facilities.
“In view of all these, and the series of meetings held by with Turkish Airline personnel, which did not yield any solution to the problem, the NCAA is therefore, left with no option than to direct Turkish Airline to suspend its operations into Nigeria until such a time when the airline is ready to operate with the right size of aircraft that can transport all passengers with their baggage at the same time.
“If no remedial action is carried out by your airline, this suspension shall be effective from the 16th of December, 2019.”
This decisive action by the Aviation Authority seems to be long overdue based on the applauding reaction of Nigerians to it. The Turkish Airline social media pages are bubbling with voluminous complaints from passengers, mainly, those who have lost their baggage or those waiting to have theirs. And the problem is not exclusive to Nigerian passengers, others from around the world are also complaining.
It is so disappointing because it goes against the ethics of Turkish Airline, and their rules regarding Lost and Delayed Baggage. Part of it reads:
“If you are unable to find your baggage at the end of your flight, contact the Lost Property Office of your destination airport. Once your journey and baggage information is recorded at the Lost Property Office, a referral will be made and you will be given a reference number…
“Within the first 5 days, the search for lost baggage is the responsibility of the airport Lost and Found Office. If your baggage is not found within the first 5 days, you can make a claim with the required documents through the baggage irregularity report page.
“Whatever the reason for your missing baggage, we will write a lost baggage report and offer you our essential needs packs. If you received your baggage late, you can make a claim via the baggage irregularity report page and submit evidence of the costs incurred during that time.”
Turkish Airline actions have become so irregular that the Lost and Found Office has become tired of handling the incessant complaints because it is deliberate. The company uses aircrafts that obviously cannot accommodate passengers’ luggage, and made them to wait until they fly them to the destination in a separate airline. No one knows how long that will take, and the compensation stated above is usually out of the question.
Many of the passengers claim that the airline doesn’t respond to their complaints, let alone the stated compensation for loss of baggage. The responsibility is therefore shifted to the Lost and Found Office even though the baggage isn’t there. The overwhelming number of missing luggage cases has resulted in mob actions at the Nigerian airport, prompting the NCAA to take drastic action before it gets contagious.