The Director of Consumer Protection Directorate of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Adamu Abdullahi, has said that bad weather, technical problems and logistics issues have made it inevitable for airlines to delay and cancel flights.
He however pointed out that the airlines must crave passengers understanding by carrying them along.
Adamu stated this at the weekend in Lagos when Arik Air offered four of its passengers, selected through a raffle draw, an all-expenses paid trip to Brazil.
The four lucky winners were picked from the tickets of many loyal customers at a draw that was overseen by the music icon, Ice Prince.
The names of the lucky winners are Onuegbu Chima Godwin, Fashawe Oluwayemisi, Aluko Bade and Samuel Bayode.
The airline said the gesture was to say thank you to its customers and to give back to them, adding that there is plan to sustain the programme and expand it in future.
The head of flight operations and deputy managing director of Arik Air, Captain Ado Sanusi said that the idea to appreciate the airline’s customers came about a year ago when Arik Air planned to start operation from Lagos to Brazil.
“The idea of this draw came about a year ago when Nigeria qualified to go to Brazil and the aim was actually to fly to Brazil and we have been working on that for over two years, trying to make sure that we fly Lagos to Brazil.
"Unfortunately there were so many challenges that we could not overcome and that has stopped the dream to fly to Brazil before the World Cup, but that doesn’t mean we cannot continue to pursue that dream. We will definitely link the two countries; that is, Nigeria and Brazil."
Sanusi promised that it would operate commercial flight to the destination of the next World Cup, no matter the country that would host it.
“We will love to make sure that the Arik flies commercially to the venue of the next World Cup, no matter where it will be hosted.”
Also expressing appreciation to Arik Air’s good gesture, Abdullahi commended the airline and said that by offering customers all expensive paid trips is a way of cementing the good relationship between the airline and its customers.
“Delays and cancellations in aviation are inevitable. What we keep arguing about is how you handle those delays. When there is delays carry your passengers along.
"The contract is that they bought your tickets to take them to their destination safely, securely and in comfort. So if there is any chance that there is going to be a delay, inform them, carry them along and explain things to them.”
He also urged passengers to have understanding when there is delay or when there is cancellation of flight.
“Nobody wants to go up there for maintenance; because up there, there is no mechanic workshop, you rather do all the repairs here before you leave. Nobody wants to go up there when the weather is bad, when the enroute destination weather is bad, just get the passengers understanding.”
The Director expressed optimism that the airline would do more in the coming years.
“It is a very good development that Arik is feting loyal customers. I am sure that it is just the beginning. If you had a direct flight to Brazil I am sure the number that will benefit will be more than these, since the currency in aviation are tickets and air miles and that is what you can give out freely.
“I commend you for this effort and I promise we will give you our backing and we are here to hold the industry together. There is no policing of the industry so to speak, we are partners in progress. If the airlines don’t survive we don’t have anything to regulate. So we take it upon ourselves to come to you, jaw, jaw with you and understand your problems,” Abdullahi also said.