Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nigerian lawmakers want law to penalize airlines for flight delays, cancellations

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National assembly abuja building

The House of Reps seeks penalties for airlines that delay and cancel flights at will. 

A bill amending the Civil Aviation Act of 2006 on Wednesday in Abuja passed its second reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill seeks to prescribe penalties for delays and cancellation of flights by airlines.

Leading debate on the general principles of the bill, Femi Gbajabimila (ACN-Lagos), said that the bill would protect passengers from unnecessary delays and cancellations of their flights if passed.

He said that the bill would also ensure that certain penalties were prescribed for airlines that delay and cancel flights without stating reasons for their actions.

The lawmaker said that there was need to fill that lacuna, so that airlines begin to take responsibilities for their actions.

“This delay and cancellation of flights is something that we need to address as a House,” he said.

He cited instances of passengers missing important business schedule, weddings, and appointments due to delays and cancellation of flights. He urged his colleagues to support the bill so as to ensure that passengers’ rights are respected.

Patrick Ikhariale (PDP-Edo) aligned himself with the views of Mr. Gbajabimila agreeing that the airlines should be held responsible for any postponement of flights by “coughing out something”.

Isa Lawan (ANPP-Borno) also expressed support, saying that it is imperative for airlines to justify the reason for the delay of any flight.

“It is not good for passengers to leave their homes only to be delayed unduly,” Mr. Lawan said.

Nnenna Ukeje (PDP-Abia) said it is important to legislate on delays and cancellations of flights.

Aishatu Ahmed (PDP-Adamawa) said that the bill is timely as it is aimed at tackling challenges such as flight delays.

However, Kingsley Chinda (PDP-Rivers) and Uzoma Abonta (PDP-Abia) spoke against the bill as a policy already existed regarding cancellation of flights.

“The law allows for damages if you cancel a flight, I sincerely don’t think we should bring in this proposed legislation,’’ Mr. Chinda said. “This bill should be stepped down and the agency involved be made to do the right thing,’’ Mr. Abonta said.

The bill passed second reading and the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, referred it to the House Committee on Aviation, for further legislative inputs.

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