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NCAA, CPC At War Over Statutory Duties

Kayode Adelowokan

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has expressed grave concerns over the intermittent encroachment of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) into matters within NCAA’s regulatory purview.

lagosairportThis is according to a statement by the General Manager Public Affairs NCAA, Fan Ndubuoke, who said that the agency was getting worried over the usurpation of its duties by the CPC.

He said the media was awash with what was referred to as ‘Order of Council from CPC’, under which far reaching sanctions were purportedly meted out to an air carrier, Aero Contractor Company of Nigeria Limited.

In the statement, “According to CPC, its action was pursuant to several publications in some National Dailies and a consumer complaint it received.

“The general public need to know that while it is correct that CPC which was established by the Consumer Protection Council Act of 1992 was given the functions to, among others, provide redress to consumers’ complaints through negotiation, mediation and consultation as well as cause offending service/goods providers to compensate and provide relief and safeguard to injured consumers, these functions are general and not specific to civil aviation”

Ndubuoke said the NCAA, established by the Civil Aviation Act of 2006 that was given specific powers, among other things to regulate, supervise and monitor the activities of Nigerian and foreign carriers, travel and other aviation agents operating in Nigeria.

To institute programmes for the protection of aviation consumer interests, to conduct economic regulation of airlines, aerodromes, air navigation services and other aviation and allied service providers.

It also added that the agency was also empowered to investigate and determine upon its own initiative or upon receipt of a complaint by any air carrier, air travel agent, consumer of air transport service or other allied aviation service provider, whether any air carrier, air travel agent or provider of any other allied aviation service has been or was engaged in unfair practices in air transportation or in the provision of other allied aviation service and order such air carrier, air travel agent or other allied aviation service provider to desist from such practices.

“It is therefore abundantly clear that the general powers given to the CPC by the earlier legislation to redress consumers’ complaints should yield to the specific powers given to NCAA by the latter legislation in so far as the subject of civil aviation consumer protection is concerned.

To make matters worse, CPC purported to have sanctioned Aero Contractors relying on Part 19 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (NigCARs), otherwise known as Passenger Bill of Rights. The NigCARs was made by NCAA pursuant to powers to make regulations given to the Authority by the Civil Aviation Act, 2006”

“The Authority which was defined and referred to in, and given powers to enforce, the Regulations, including Part 19 dealing with Passengers’ Rights and Airlines’ Obligations to Passengers, is the NCAA. No other body is empowered to enforce the NigCARs. The CPC has no power to sanction any air carrier pursuant to Part 19 of NigCARs”.

He said NCAA had already written to CPC since January 2014 and requested CPC to yield civil aviation consumer protection to the Authority adding that the said letter, NCAA informed CPC that, as empowered by law, the Authority had not only made regulations for aviation consumer protection (Part 19 of NigCARs) but had set up a Directorate of Consumer Protection (DCP), headed by a substantive director and manned by well-trained staff who have over the years became experts in civil aviation consumer protection.

Ndubuoke said these officers can be found in all the nation’s airports and handle aviation consumer complaints on a daily basis adding that With regard to the complaint against Aero Contractors, the general public should know that the DCP of NCAA duly received and processed it and applied the appropriate sanctions under Part 19 of NigCARs.

He said NCAA approved the airline’s offer to the passengers of free tickets on its flights to any destination of their choice in Nigeria adding that eleven (11) of them have utilized the offer while the agency in addition, ordered Aero Contractors to review its Disruption Management Manual.

According to the statement, Aero had done and the revised Manual and approved by the Regulator after which NCAA issued a Warning Letter to the airline which was widely publicized.

He assured all airline operators (Nigerian and foreign), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), other aviation and allied service providers and aviation service consumers, that there was only one organization specifically empowered by law to regulate civil aviation in Nigeria, including protection of the interests of aggrieved aviation consumers and that body is the NCAA.





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