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Air Peace Chairman Onyema Says Unruly Passengers Mostly Responsible for Flight Delays, Cancellations

The Chairman and Chief Executive of Air Peace Limited, Allen Onyema has disclosed that passenger behaviour constitutes the major cause of  flight delays in Nigeria and has led to huge financial losses by airlines.

This is coming as the Managing Director of Aero Contractors said that airlines are projected to lose about N15 billion revenues to issues related to flight delays and cancellation.

Onyema, quoting the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), said airlines contribute little to the cause of flight delays, but in Nigeria, besides weather, VIP movement and tech, passenger behaviour is the major cause of delays and cancelled flights.

He said that this is because Nigerian travellers have not embraced the culture of rescheduling when flights are cancelled, a policy that follows international standards and recommended practices.

According to him, the insistence of passengers whose flights are cancelled that they will be airlifted first the following day gives rise to disruption of flights, which snowballs into weeks of delays and cancellations.

Onyema explained that airlines schedule the number of flights that must be operated by each aircraft but when a previous flight is cancelled, passengers’ insistence that they must be airlifted first before the airline operates its normal schedule, disrupts flight operations.

He emphasised that what passengers whose airlines are cancelled should do is to reschedule their flights in accordance with the existing airline schedule.

In doing so, he stated that subsequent flights will not be disrupted, delays and cancellations will be drastically minimised and insisted that this is the system that is operated in other parts of the world, except in Nigeria.

“Let me tell you why delays and cancellations will persist in this country. Number one, apart from safety, apart from security, apart from weather and other issues, it is unruly passenger behaviour; a misunderstanding of how airlines’ scheduled operations are supposed to be run, is the major cause of flight delays.

“When weather is the cause of the delay or leads to cancellation at the end of the day, it is not the business of the airline to fly the passenger whose flight was cancelled first thing the next morning, no.

“All over the world, aviation is the same worldwide. The convention is, the passenger is expected to reschedule to the next available date. That is how it is done. In Nigeria, you want to fly, and you have three hours delay because of weather.

“And the time weather clears, you want to go in, and there is airport closure, because most of the airports don’t run at night. And the passenger will tell you, even though you put us in hotel, we will be the first ones to fly in the morning. It is not done like that, you reschedule to the next available date, because it is called scheduled flight operations,” Onyema explained.

He said that what happens is that in Nigeria, in the morning, those ones that could not fly the previous day will be the first people to fly and when this is done, they will disrupt the schedule of that morning.

“Each aircraft does about six to eight flights a day; so, it is not only one disruption; you are talking about massive eight flights disrupted for that day. That extra five flights you will start first to bring in passengers of the previous day will disrupt 40 flights in today’s flight schedule.

“ It goes on like that for the next two weeks because you can never recover. You will never be able to recover, given the situation that most of your airports close by 6:00 pm. In fact, you can’t recover.  It will only ease off after two weeks. God saves you if within those two weeks they don’t cause another problem for you, if that happens, it continues,” Onyema said.

Reinforcing the disclosure made by Air Peace Chairman, the Managing Director and CEO of Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi, said that airlines lose about N15 billion revenue to flight delays and cancellations through direct loss of revenue, litigation by passengers and fraudulent acts by some airlines officials.

He noted that airline officials may want to use the cancelled flights to defraud the airlines by selling tickets with the PRN (Passenger Name Record) number of the cancelled flight.

“Some passengers do not understand how the aviation system works. Every cancellation means that the airline has lost huge amount of money, which cannot be less than N15 billion annually.

“Some will even take the airline to court and make the airline pay hugely in legal cases. 

Airlines staff can take advantage of cancelled flight, go to the system and resell the PRN number. There are many factors that lead to flight delays, including inadequate airport infrastructure,” Sanusi said.

Chinedu Eze

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