The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has waded into the row between Arik Air and at least 40 passengers who have been protesting the non-arrival of their baggage for five days since arriving Nigeria from London.
On Wednesday, NCAA directed Arik Air to return all the delayed baggage within the next 24 hours. It also directed the airline to compensate the affected passengers with $150 each for their troubles.
The directive was issued by Adamu Abdullahi, the agency’s director of consumer complaints department.
The aggrieved passengers had disrupted the airline’s operations and also allegedly damaged its check-in counter at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
Addressing the passengers, Abdullahi appealed to them to remain calm as both Arik Air and the aviation authorities were working towards resolving the issue.
“NCAA has directed Arik Air to pay each and every passenger a compensation of $150 each in line with civil aviation rules and regulations in Nigeria,” he said.
“We have sent the letter to the airline and it also contains a directive that every bag must be here within the next 24 hours. A directive is a directive and we will hold Arik Air management responsible, and I can assure you that they will abide by the directive.”
Abdullahi advised the passengers against taking the laws into their hands.
Saleh Dunoma, managing director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), urged those who needed medical attention to visit the FAAN clinic within the airport.
Dunoma said the doctors had been directed to issue prescription drugs to passengers whose medications had yet to arrive the country due to the delay.
Femi Kukoyi, associate vice-president, ground operations department of Arik, apologised to the passengers for the inconveniences.
Kukoyi said the airline had to charter an aircraft which brought some of the baggage to Lagos on Wednesday morning because the passengers prevented it from operating its A330 aircraft on Tuesday.
He assured them that an aircraft was en route to Lagos from London, and would arrive with about 300 bags by 7pm, while the remaining would be brought in by another of its aircraft by 5am on Thursday.
On the issue of compensation, he said Arik would attend to them on an individual basis, and he expressed optimism that everything would be resolved amicably.
Ifeanyi Uchendu and Johnson Agwu, two of the passengers who spoke to NAN, berated the airline for the shabby treatment of the passengers.
They said the airline had earlier promised that their bags would arrive latest on Tuesday, and also promised to give a compensation of N50,000 to each of the affected passengers.