Aviation sector is regulated by Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA). The primary acts are Civil Aviation Act, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria Act and the Nigeria Airspace Management Act. One of the major responsibilities of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority is to protect the rights of air passengers in Nigeria. The rights of air passengers are contained in Part 19 of Nigeria. Civil Aviation Regulations 2012, Vol. II.
It is not uncommon to hear of cases of flight delay by the Nigeria Airlines. In fact, it is now the order of the day which makes one wonder if passengers have any rights? And the role of the regulators in this sector?
RIGHT OF PASSENGERS WHEN A FLIGHT IS DELAYED
When flights are delayed, passengers have the right to compensation. Flight delay occurs where an Airlines takes off or lands more than the scheduled time. According to regulation 184.108.40.206 where there is a flight delay, the airline immediately after one hour must provide refreshments including water, soft drinks, confectioneries, or snacks. In addition to that the passenger will be given free of charge, two telephone calls, SMS, or e-mails. If the delay is for more than two hours then the passenger is entitled to reimbursement in cash.
When the delay occurs around 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. or at a time where the airport is closed then the passenger is entitled to hotel accommodation and transport.
The passenger can also claim 25 percent of the ticket price when his flight is delayed but this will depend on the length of the delay. The delay must be at least one hour. This is in accordance with regulation 19.16.2. of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulation.
CONDITIONS FOR GETTING COMPENSATION
With every right comes is a corresponding duty. A passenger that wants to enforce these rights must fulfil this precondition
a) The passenger must have checked in at the stipulated time.
b) The reservation must have been confirmed.
c) The flight must be a domestic flight within Nigeria territory.
STEPS FOR GETTING THE COMPENSATION
Passengers that want to enforce any of these rights can take any of the following steps.
a) He/she can write to the airline in question.
b) If the airline does not deal with the issue satisfactorily then the passenger can lay further complaint to Consumer Protection Directorate of the NCAA.
c) If the Directorate does not deal with the matter then it can be addressed to consumer protection Council .
d) The passenger can engage the service of a lawyer to take the matter to court at any stage.
It is important to note that in case of flight delay described above, the passenger should first contact the airline in question before resorting to other means.