Aviation stakeholder canvasses implementation of legislation to deal with unruly passengers

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has been told to ensure effective implementation of Part 19 on Consumer Protection, which deals with the Passenger Rights and Responsibilities to tackle unruly or disruptive behaviours among the travelling public.

The Director, Zenith Research, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo stated this today during a webinar conference with the theme: ‘Repositioning the Aviation Sector in Nigeria for Revenue Generation and Growth: The Role of Legislation.’

Ohunayo insisted that it was necessary for the sector to have an effective legislation to address unruly passengers.

Effective legal action

He, however, emphasised that the sector in the country was not short of consumer-airline protection laws, but said implementation of these laws had not been effective.

He declared that it was necessary for the government and airlines to have the necessary legal authority to prosecute unruly passengers.

Ohunayo lamented that some of the unruly passengers had done damages to the airlines’ assets and staff in the past without appropriate sanction by the responsible authority.

Unruly behaviour

Some of the damages according to him include blocking of airlines from operating other flights due to cancellation of flights, destruction of airlines’ counters and flagrant disobedience to instructions of cabin crew, failure to fasten seatbelts and standing up during taxi.

Others are verbal or physical abuse and intoxication, pilfering of passenger luggage and disobeying crew briefing during disembarkation among others.

In a bid to address the challenge, Ohunayo explained that some countries, including the United States have taken decisive action against such unruly behaviour, stressing that the U.S for instance has a zero-tolerance approach to tackle the issue.

  • He said: “It is important that the government and airlines have the necessary legal authority to prosecute unruly passengers. Enforcement measures that reflect the severity of the incident should be activated.
  • “For this to happen, command gaps must be eradicated and effective coordination between airlines and responsible agencies.
  • “If a crew member, staff or other passenger is threatened or assaulted, then there will be action taken against the offender by the U.S authority.
  • “In 2022, $8.4 million in fines were issued with the most serious cases referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to pursue criminal prosecutions. Airlines have also used the ‘ban the passenger’ option.”

Ohunayo stated that the problem with bans is data protection laws, which he said affects information sharing, while the ban could be circumvented with name changes.

Passenger’s Right

He added that the passengers too have their rights, especially when they felt they have not been properly treated by the airlines, but insisted they must act within the ambit of the law.

He mentioned some of the rights of passengers to include right to full value for money paid, right to timely feedback in respect of complaints lodged with service and right to seek redress for irregularities during a flight among others.

He added that passengers and crew are entitled to a safe and hassle-free experience on board.

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