AIRLINE Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called on the Federal government through the Ministry of Aviation and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria to beef up security at the nation’s airports and ensure that the lives of airline staff and their properties are lawfully protected.
The AON made this known while condemning the recent attack by some unruly passengers on staff of Max Air and the wanton destruction of the airline’s properties due to a delayed flight.
In a statement signed by AON President, Alhaji (Dr.) Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, the unfortunate development further heightens the bodies deepest concern and worry over the increasingly deplorable state of security and the rising threat to the lives of airline staff and their properties at Nigerian airports.
He however appealed to the travelling public for calm, understanding and patience as well as the need to exercise the highest level of restraint and responsibility in expressing their frustration whenever their flights are delayed or cancelled.
According to him, the airport vicinity is a sensitive environment where uncontrollable behaviours should not be allowed and the
issues of delay or cancellation can be addressed in a civil manner without resorting to violence.
He said, “The unruly passengers that went after Max Air and destroyed the computer reservation systems further exacerbated the problem for other passengers going to other destinations. Such acts are completely unacceptable.
The AON further appealed to passengers to exercise some restraint in expressing their displeasure or frustrations during flight delays or cancellation highlighting some causes.
He said, “This is because the airline, within the prevailing circumstances could be complying with a safety procedure, obeying a regulation or facing certain difficulties beyond its immediate control.
“It is also necessary to put on record that while passengers are entitled to their rights, they also have some obligations and responsibilities. For instance, Part 19 of “Nig. CARs 2012, Vol. II highlights some rights and responsibilities of passengers.
“Item six (6) of the NCAA’s Notice on Passenger Obligations To Airlines/Service Providers requires passengers to: “Be of good behavior at all stages of their journey,” adding that “Airlines and agencies have a zero policy for unruly behaviour.”
Highlighting the passengers’ obligation further the AON stated:
” i. All airport and airline staff deserves to be treated with respect and courtesy. An airline reserves the right to deny boarding/disembark a passenger for unruly behaviours.
“ii. Passengers are prohibited from interfering with flight crew and aircraft attendants.
“iii. Offensive, disorderly conduct such as physical assault, verbal abuse or sexual harassment of any airline or service provider staff will attract severe punishment in addition to fines or jail term.
Part 17.92.1 of the Nig. CARs 2012, Vol. II states that: “Any passenger who becomes unruly at the airport terminal or on board an Aircraft commits an offence.” Part 17.92.2(c)(d)(e)(f) defines the word “unruly” as:
(c) Fighting or other disorderly conduct on board an aircraft or at the terminal building;
(d) Any conduct/act constituting a nuisance to other passengers;
(e) Disobedience of lawful instructions issued by the aircraft commander, flight crew, cabin attendants, check-in staff and/or security screening staff;
(f) Any conduct that endangers or is likely to endanger the safety of flight operations;
Part 17.92.3 states further that: “Where any passenger becomes unruly on board an aircraft or at the terminal building, the aircraft commander or airport authority shall take necessary measures including restraint where necessary:
(a) to protect the safety of the aircraft, terminal building or of persons or property therein, or
(b) to maintain good order and discipline on board or at the terminal building; and
(c) to enable him deliver such person to competent authorities.
The AON President said that should a similar occurrence like the unfortunate case with Max Air happen to any of our member airlines going forward, AON may be forced to have a rethink on how to respond in such circumstances.