Turkish Airlines Lacks Regard For The System, May Be Sanctioned, Says NCAA

Turkish Airlines Lacks Regard For The System, May Be Sanctioned, Says NCAA

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) says the Director General, “Capt. Chris Najomo had in a virtual meeting on Tuesday from the United Kingdom initiated reconciliation moves between the Country Manager of Turkish Airlines and the unions, but the representative of the airline exhibited some traits of impudence, which the regulator deemed amounted to lack of regard for the system.”

“Currently, the NCAA is engaging officials of Turkish Airlines, but we have observed some degree of insolence of the Country Manager, who engaged our Director General, Capt. Chris Najomo in a shouting match. He was even banging the table. This behaviour to the NCAA is unacceptable. At the end of our findings, if the airline is found culpable, we will invoke the relevant parts of our regulation Part 17 to met out the right punishment,”  stated NCAA’s Director, Public Affairs & Consumer Protection, Mr. Michael Achimugu, who said NCAA would not hesitate to invoke relevant sections of the Civil Aviation regulations to roll out stiff penalties and sanctions to Turkish Airlines over the airline’s maltreatment of Nigerians passengers, who have remained stranded at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, following it failure to airlift them to Istanbul.

The agency disclosed that the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu had directed the NCAA, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and relevant agencies to ensure that the rights of Nigerian passengers are protected anywhere they might be facing challenges.

Achimugu, said the NCAA is currently mediating on the feud between the European carrier and aviation labour unions which picketed the airline’s operations at the Lagos Airport on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, adding that the Federal Government and its agencies would spare no efforts to call to order, any airline that violates the rights of Nigerian passengers.

Arising from the infraction, Achimugu said the Federal Government would not hesitate to look deep into the impasse with the possibility of extracting the right punishment if the carrier is found culpable.

The Federal Government, he said, will take every step to ensure the rights of Nigerian passengers are not trampled upon by any carrier, including foreign airlines, in taking the right steps to address any infractions on their conditions of operations into the country.

He confirmed that over 300 passengers have been trapped in the imbroglio involving the Turkish Airlines and aviation unions, as the carrier had canceled flights out of and into Nigeria until Thursday.

Achimugu said though the carrier claimed to have communicated with passengers through electronic mail on the on- going hitch concerning its operations into and out of the country, some passengers still turned up at the Lagos Airport.

He said: “The NCAA is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the inability of Turkish Airlines to operate flights out of Lagos Airport, due to the picketing of its operations by aviation unions. We will ensure that the rights of Nigerian passengers are not violated.

Recall that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Tuesday commenced the picketing of Turkish Airlines in Lagos in a bid for the carrier to reinstate staff that were dismissed, forced to abandon duty or forced to resign under duress, including those victimized for their union membership in 2020.

The NLC in earlier notice of picketing of Turkish Airlines in Lagos signed by its Acting General Secretary, Chris Ufot stated that all affiliate unions in aviation are particularly charged to mobilize heavily for the picketing action without fail, adding that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) council is to stand bye in case there came a need to escalate the matter to Abuja airport.

According to the group, Turkish Airlines management had continued its determined bid to exterminate the union, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) from the airline.

It noted that in this latest onslaught, the management had dismissed seven out of 11 members of the union without benefits under trump-up charges and using a disciplinary committee constituted outside the dictate of the prevailing condition of service as negotiated with NUATE.

Achimugu later visited the stranded passengers at the new terminal of the international airport where he conveyed the message of the DG CA to the stranded passengers, affirming that the authority will not rest until they are airlifted to their various destinations.

The Director said “I assure you all that the NCAA is on top of your matter. We have met with officials of the Turkish Airlines today and we are working towards resolving the issues between the airline and the labour union to ensure that you are airlifted out this airport. The DG feels your pain, which is why we are here to attend to your plight.”

Narrating his ordeal, a passenger, Fernando Obiekwe Ngozichukwu who resides in Guttenberg, Sweden said he is now afraid of losing his job as a top official of Scandic Hotel as the company has been calling him to resume from his leave.

He said “I came to bury my late mother in Imo state but I couldn’t now because I was supposed to resume work by now but I am stranded. I had to put my late mother in the mortuary to return to Guttenberg and start work. My company has been calling. For two days now I slept on the floor and my body aches.”

“We don’t know when we are leaving here, I appeal to the authority to intervene and save us from these harrowing experiences.”

A Germany based construction worker, Charles Ifeanyi also appeal to the federal government to intervene to save the situation lamenting that the authority must not allow Nigerians to be maltreated anywhere in the world anyhow.

Mr. Achimugu assured the troubled passengers that the NCAA will explore all avenues to resolve the issues.

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Albinus Chiedu

Albinus Chiedu is a journalist, aviation media consultant, events management professional, and author. He has practiced journalism since 2000.

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