Turkish Airlines Could Be Banned From Nigerian Airspace

The Federal Government of Nigeria has issued a warning to Turkish Airlines that it must solve ongoing baggage handling issues or risk being banned. Unless the airline takes action, it will be banned from Nigerian airspace and all operations to Nigeria will cease. The ban will come into effect on Monday.

Turkish Airlines plane
Turkish Airlines has until Monday before the ban comes into effect. Photo: Riik@mctr via Flickr

Turkish Airlines has been leaving bags behind, and it’s causing problems. Live And Lets Fly reported that, on one recent flight to Nigeria, the airline left a whopping 85% of passenger bags in Istanbul. But now Nigeria has had enough.

The ban

Today, the country’s governing aviation body issued a warning to the airline. Unless it could improve the situation, it will be banned from operating in the country. The Government described the issue as “repeated cases of poor passenger treatment” and stated that the airline must “suspend its operations into Nigeria until such a time when the airline is ready to operate with the right size of aircraft that can transport all passengers with their baggage at the same time.”

Turkish Airlines flies to four destinations in Nigeria; Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said that the ban is the result of several weeks of incidents. It also stated that meetings were held with the airline in an attempt to solve the problem but that talks had failed.

The statement from the NCAA continues to say that “If no remedial action is carried out by your airline, this suspension shall be effective from the 16th of December, 2019.” However, as of Friday morning, Turkish Airlines said it had not received official notification of the ban.

Why does this warrant a ban?

Passengers have been complaining about issues for a few weeks now. But it’s not only the fact that bags are being left behind. Passengers are also upset with how the airline has been handling complaints from those who have been frustratingly left without luggage.

One passenger, upon hearing about the ban said, “Nice one. I experienced it on Sunday night. Thank God I was able to get my bags on Monday night.”

Excess luggage airport
Turkish Airlines has reportedly overbooked luggage and has been forced to leave bags behind. Photo: Kenneth Lu via Flickr

The issue is not only affecting passengers. Abdullahi Sidi, Acting Director-General, NCAA commented that, “Our airport authority had been facing serious crises controlling the passengers at the airport whenever they arrived without their baggage.”

He went on to explain that the safety of airport staff was in question due to the airline’s failures as, “This issue had made passengers carry out several mob actions at our airport and it was a great threat to our airport facilities.

Why is baggage being left behind?

Turkish Airlines makes a lot of money by charging excess and oversize baggage fees. Recently, it hasn’t been restricting the number of bags passengers are allowed to check-in. This means that its aircraft’s cargo hold cannot hold all the bags.

Even if the airline is aware that the hold is full, it does not restrict anyone from booking extra bags. Even if the plane is at maximum capacity and bags have to be left behind, the airline will continue to take money for luggage it knows it cannot transport.

Turkish Airlines headquarters, in istanbul
Turkish Airlines headquarters has not yet issued a statement in response to the warning. Photo: Sympatexter via Flickr

So far, Turkish Airlines has not issued an official statement or responded to the Nigerian Government’s statement. Nor have they responded to Simple Flying’s request for comment. It is unclear what course of action the airline will now take before the ban comes into effect on Monday. However, one could suggest that changing its baggage policy to limit the number of bags passengers can take would be a sensible option.

What do you think of the ban? Do you think Nigeria is right to issue the ban? Let us know in the comments below.