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FG probes high airfares, flight delays as bureau releases crash reports

By Joke Falaju, Abuja
25 February 2022   |   3:07 am
Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have set up a joint technical committee to address consumer-related issues

[FILES] Airplane

Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have set up a joint technical committee to address consumer-related issues in the aviation industry.

Executive Vice Chairman of FCCPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, disclosed this in Abuja, yesterday.

Irukera said issues to be addressed include fairness, insensitive delays and cancellation of flights. Others are level of responsiveness of airlines when unavoidable delays and cancellations occur and coordinated conduct in restraining competition in the industry.

He regretted that aviation was one industry where the commission had received high number of complaints and dissatisfactions.

This came as a report by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB-N) attributed cause of the helicopter crash that led to the death of three passengers in the Opebi area of Lagos state to fuel exhaustion.

AIB-N Commissioner, Akin Olateru, disclosed this while releasing investigative reports on five accidents between 2018 and 2020 in Abuja, yesterday.

Irukera said: “What we are doing here is something that has been on the works and this is quite a time to strengthen the collaboration between FCCPC and NCAA.

“Immediately the information about increase in airfare came to us, we set out to consider the best approach, which is to start by engaging you (NCAA).

“What we did not anticipate was the sheer volume of responses from the public, the level of aggravation, and despondence.

“As regulators from the competition standpoint, while we believe that businesses want to operate in a way that shares prosperity, their priority is the bottom-line.”

Director General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said the authority would collaborate with FCCPC and all stakeholders in the industry to address the issues.

Nuhu said the committee would work toward ensuring fairness and protection of passengers in terms of airline cancellations and delays as well as airfare increases.

He explained: “In our regulations, airfares are deregulated, subject to meeting certain conditions.

“The airlines are supposed to submit information to the NCAA, at least, seven days before any increase, and we are supposed to review and see the increases, considering several factors that are used to determine these airfares.”

“Where we see that the processes are not complied with, either FCCPC or NCCAA will ensure that these are complied with.”

Meanwhile, speaking further on the helicopter crash, Olateru said the pilot knew he had exhausted his fuel. And rather than doing an emergency landing on any open field, he continued the journey.

It will be recalled that on August 28, 2020, the helicopter operated by Quorum Aviation Limited with registration 5N-BQW, in bound from Port Harcourt to Lagos, crash-landed in a residential area at about 12:14 p.m., killing the three passengers on board.