Uche Usim, Abuja and Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
Barely 24 hours after it pledged to address the perennial challenge of unaccompanied baggage, Turkish Airlines on Friday deployed a wide body airplane, Airbus A330, on the Istanbul-Abuja route, as against the smaller B737-700.
By so doing, the airline has escaped the hammer of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which had threatened to halt its flights into the country, effective December 16.
Officials of the airline, alarmed by the prospect of losing their Nigerian market had rushed into a meeting with the Nigerian authorities, to pledge total commitment and compliance with the conditions given to them in order to continue their operations in the country.
Turkish Airlines has been notorious for their shabby treatment of Nigerian travellers over time, especially when they have to arrive their destinations without their checked-in luggage. This has always given rise to security issues at the airports with protests by affected passengers.
The NCAA in a letter dated December 11, 2019, addressed to the Country General Manager, Turkish Airlines and signed by the Acting Director General, NCAA, Captain Abdullahi Sidi, the agency said the airline had often arrived the country without passengers luggage, which had led to mob attacks by the aggrieved passengers at the airport.
However, the airline has now shown commitment to improve its treatment of Nigerian travellers by operating into the nation’s capital with a bigger and more comfortable aircraft.
Reacting to the development, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika, described it as commendable, saying that the situation did not need to arise in the first place, with the airline waiting for the strong-arm handling before doing the right thing.
No foreign airline operator would henceforth be allowed to treat Nigerian travellers with disdain, the Minister said, warning the others to take a cue from the Turkish airlines experience.
Sirika has also promised Nigerians better flying experience as the nation’s aviation industry is set to undergo major developments in the coming years, with the implementation of the stakeholder-developed roadmap.