Compensation for flight delays and cancellations is to be enforced soon if airline operators fail to do the needful, says Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo. He said if the regulations are enforced, operators would sit up and avoid abusing the rights of passengers, adding that the regulations were in place but never enforced. Keyamo, who stated this in a chat with reporters after an inspection of facilities at the Lagos airport on Thursday, said he would give the operators some time to put their act together before enforcing the regulations and there would be no sacred cow.
“You abuse the rights of passengers you will pay. The regulations are there, but we are not enforcing them as to when you cancel flights, you delay flights, you pay some compensation to passengers. Nobody is enforcing that and at some point, I will give them some breathing space and I will enforce it. “In this job, I am just telling them, this is a note to all of them, I have so many friends but in this job, they will see my red eye, I have no friends. I am only responsible to the Nigerian people and have absolute loyalty to Mr. President that is why I’m here,” he added.
Keyamo also assured of government’s commitment to protecting and supporting the operators in the area of Bilateral Air Services Agreement, BASA, adding that there had been complaints of foreign airlines operating domestic operations under the guise of BASA. He said: “People have been complaining about some of our BASA’s and AON came and said, look you can’t come under BASA and a foreign airline comes and is hopping from one city to the other within Nigeria picking passengers and it affects their local operations.” According to him, 90 per cent of why he is appointed is about laws and regulations and interpreting it better for Nigerians to understand.
“And I said fine, am prepared to protect the rights of local operators and in fact, it is one of my cardinal objectives because we have to develop the industry and we have to protect and support our local operators and it is going to be but they must give me comfort too and give the Nigerian people comfort so that’s the problem, have told them,” he said. The minister promised he would look at the BASAs but that the operators must be ready to do what is expected of them. He said: “You said you have complaints about those BASAs, yes okay I will look at them. Can you, for instance, get into an agreement with foreign airlines whereby you sign a connectivity agreement with them, pick passengers in Kano and connect them with Lagos, and then they are waiting for you and you delaying four hours, can you do that, can you give me that comfort before I can look at those BASAs for you?.
“If they sell 30 Business Class, for instance, for a foreign airline, pick passengers from Kano and then connect through Abuja and they are there in Abuja waiting for you, can you give us 30 Business Class in your aircraft? Give me those comforts. I will protect you, tell the Nigerian people you can perform. I am clear as to where I am going, I have to balance all of these interests, and am looking at all of those issues.”