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Don’t Succumb To Blackmail To Fly During Bad Weather, Airline Operators Warned



Stakeholders in the Aviation industry have warned airline operators to continue to stick to operational guidelines in order to ensure the safety of lives of Nigerians and other air travellers.

In a statement Tuesday, issued under the aegis of Vanguard for the Safety of Air Travellers (VAFAT), the stakeholders said the major concern of any traveller, especially through the air, is safety, how to take off and land safely, and urged airline operators to continue to have passenger safety as topmost priority at all times.

They also warned travellers to desist from mounting undue pressure as well as physical abuse on pilots and crew, in order that they fly with sound minds, which is necessary for safety of passengers.

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The statement which was signed by Magnus Mezie-Obi and Zainab Ladi Abdulmumuni, National Secretary and National Publicity Secretary respectively, also commended airline operators, the Minister of Aviation and the Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for the current health of the nation’s aviation industry and airspace.

The statement reads in part: “It has come to the knowledge of VATAT, that some passengers have formed the habit of mounting undue pressure on pilots and crew members in Nigeria to fly their planes even when they are duly informed that there is bad weather and that the planes have not been cleared by authorities to take off. We view this as the greatest act of irresponsibility, wickedness and lack of respect for human lives.

“All over the world, the major concern of any traveller is safety. In the case of air travellers, time to take off and time to land is the most crucial moment both for pilots, crew members and especially for passengers who expect that they would be taken safely to their destination.

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“Air travel, though fast and pleasurable, is the most delicate means of movement for man. This is because while on air, any slightest infraction could lead to disaster of unimaginable losses. May God forbid such evil.

“It is therefore shocking, that is to say the least, that travellers, would be angry when flights are delayed or rescheduled based on expert advise to save their lives, to the point of insulting, harassing and sometimes meting physical assault on pilots and crew members. This is unheard of.

“The most embarrassing situation in Nigeria today is when adult passengers take to the social media or grant interview, to complain of flight delays or reschedule, as if they are completely ignorant of what happens in the industry, especially from November through January when bad weather forces airlines to make lots of flight delays, reschedules and cancellations.

“For the case of Nigeria, there are incidences of bird strikes, especially in the Southern part of the country where thick forests and mangroves are natural homes for wild birds. We are aware that when birds strike, they destroy plane engines especially the Inlet Cowl which costs as much as $1.5million each; and most times, it is two of the Cowls that are destroyed when birds strike.

“While we note and appreciate the pains passengers go through when flights are rescheduled or cancelled, in terms of failure to keep appointments and sometimes, loses in businesses, among others, It has to be noted that nothing is more precious than life itself; as well as the fact that airline operators equally suffer the most when flights have to be delayed, rescheduled or cancelled because, the ripple effects of such occurrences is that their entire flights are distorted. Therefore, no airline would want to tamper with its flight schedule, all things being equal.

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“We are aware that like every other business, there is competition in the aviation industry. However, we urge airline operators to keep the competition healthy, with the safety of passengers uppermost in mind.

“It would be unreasonable to sponsor irresponsible elements in the society to go wild on social media or grant media interviews where unsubstantiated allegations are made based on total ignorance, most times, in the name of “sources who do not want their names mentioned,”

but who advertise their ignorance while trying to de-market indigenous airlines that are making the nation proud at the moment.

“As air travellers, we are concerned about our safety and again, urge airline operators to take our safety as number one priority at all times.”

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