Nigerian Government directs Airlines to refund airfares to passengers

After the country’s aviation minister applied some clearance to the law, Nigeria has just introduced what could be one of the most extensive consumer protection regulations for air travelers worldwide. The Federal Government has mandated airline companies to refund the full cost of travel tickets to passengers depending on the situation.

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Air Nigeria
Air Nigeria B737-36N 5N-VND : Photo from Air Nigeria

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, stated this yesterday at a ministerial press briefing organized by the Presidential Communication Team at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. At the briefing, he read some of the rights of aviation passengers and tried to persuade them to demand their rights whenever they were violated by airlines.

Sirika said his ministry has begun punishing airlines that violate consumer rights, and he advised customers not to be disruptive at airports. According to Sirika, Nigeria’s new airline passenger protections look like this. That is what she stated. Domestic flights that are delayed by at least one hour shall be provided with refreshments, and domestic flights that are delayed by at least two hours should be compensated in full.

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On the other hand, passengers on international flights will be eligible for further compensation if their delay necessitates an overnight stay under the new system. “Carriers shall give hotel accommodation, refreshment, a meal, two free calls, SMS, email, and transportation to and from the airport for delays between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.,” Sirika says.

The Consumer Protection Regulations went into effect to inform airline passengers about the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) regulation to protect air travelers’ rights. The rights are drawn from Part 19 of “Nig. CARs 2012, Vol. II.” – All airlines, both domestic and international, are bound by the Regulations, which provide basic passenger rights and responsibilities, as well as airline commitments.

According to The Punch, a Nigerian publication, these additional safeguards are intended to address Nigerian airlines’ significant flight punctuality concerns. They have blamed the delays on rising gasoline prices and a lack of parking space, but Sirika now wants them to be held responsible for such delays on domestic services. Over half of Nigeria’s domestic flights were delayed in the first quarter of 2021, affecting 7,554 out of 14,662 flights. At the same time, 30 percent of international planes were delayed. Furthermore, nine foreign flights and 149 domestic flights were canceled.

Earlier, one of the airlines in Nigeria was accused of losing bags with lots of money as a businessman lost his luggage, one of which held $700,000 in cash and the other with $930,000 in notes, during a journey from Lagos to China in 2007. The Emirates had to pay $1.63 million in compensation by a Nigerian court earlier this year, determining Emirates was accountable. The court was found in Orji Prince Ikem’s favor after a long legal struggle of 12 years.

Nigeria is not the only one

Nigeria isn’t the only country that has lately proposed changes to its airline passenger compensation programs. When it comes to consumer rights for delayed flights, there are tremendous discrepancies throughout the world.

If the flights are delayed or canceled in the UK, Airlines should offer you and assist free of charge while you wait. The assistance to be provided includes, Refreshments, Food, Accommodation, Transport to accommodation and return to the airport and two telephone calls, telex, fax messages or emails. Meanwhile, in much of Europe, a several-hour delay could result in monetary compensation.

Airlines can delay your flight by days or weeks in the United States, and you are not legally entitled to compensation. But the US government is aiming to adopt similar laws in the country addressing delayed baggage. The Department of Transportation wants airlines to be responsible for refunding baggage costs if passengers’ luggage is delayed for more than 12 hours domestically and 25 hours internationally.

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