Deadline for Refunds for Cancelled Flights. Daily Law Tips (Tip 754) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)
Although there are laws in Nigeria, many affairs are often lawless. Big corporations (including, commercial airlines) purposely violate federal and state laws/regulations, after all, “nothing go happen” (there will be no consequences). For instance, a federal regulation mandates all airlines to immediately refund with interest the flight fares of passengers of any cancelled flight. In reality that will not happen without force or fraud.
Surprisingly, some airlines (including, Aero Contractors) have written policies that their refunds will take 14 to 28 working days, contrary to the Regulations of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). This work reveals the mandatory deadline for refund of all air fares where there is a cancellation of flight (domestic or international flight) by a commercial airline.
Airlines, Refunds and Passengers:
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is a federal agency that has powers to regulate all commercial airlines in Nigeria and as such, makes necessary regulations. The NCAA has the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Regulations 2015, which made provisions for consumer protection issues (rights and obligations of airlines to their customers (passengers). This includes the rights of customers to compensation for overbooking, delayed flight, cancelled flight both for domestic and international flights as well as for delayed, lost and damaged baggage. By the Regulations, generally, where an airline cancels its flight, all passengers are obviously denied the opportunity to fly the cancelled flight but not all the passengers are entitled to compensation from the airline.
Airlines provide air transportation to passengers. Passengers pay airline for air transportation. Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority is a federal regulator that ensures airlines maintain standard and recommended practices for commercial airlines. Logically and even morally, where a service provider fails to provide services, such service provider must refund any payment received for such uncompleted/unperfected service. In line with this, NCAA’ Regulations mandates all airlines to refund air fares to passengers of cancelled flights. The NCAA Regulation also mentioned a compulsory time for such refunds. The regulation mandates airlines to make immediate refund in cash for domestic flight and a refund within 14 days for international flights.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is a regulator of all commercial airlines and has a 2015 federal Regulation that mandates all airlines to make refunds of air fares to passengers where there is a cancellation of flight by the airline. For domestic flights, the refund must be immediate and for international flights the refund must be within 14 days. Also, the refund must be full and no deduction is to be made by the airline.
The practice where commercial airlines in Nigeria, like “Aero Contract”, force domestic flight passengers to wait for 14 to 28 working days before receiving refunds of fares of cancelled flight is unlawful. Such internal policies are clear violation of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Regulations 2015. The policy of a company cannot surpass the provisions of a regulation or law. Where there is an inconsistency between a business policy and a law/regulation, the business policy is invalid and unlawful. The “Cash Ticket Refund request Form” of Aero Contractor stating that passengers are to wait for 14 working days for a refund can be accessed via <http://www.flyaero.com/refund/ticket-refund-form.pdf>.
Passengers are to be protected from commercial airlines that hold on to air fares for cancelled flights. Passengers should seek for refund as well as damages for any delayed refund. Commercial airlines should not be allowed to unlawfully detain and trade with the funds of aggrieved passengers. Aside administrative processes for remedies, passengers may approach the Federal High Court to seek refund, compensation, damages and any other reliefs.
My authorities, are:
- Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 16 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
- Sections 1, 2, 27, 30, 31, 54, 61, 63, 71, 78 and 79 of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006.
- Sections 19.1, 19.2, 19.7, 19.8, 19.9, 19.10, 19.13, 19.14, 19.16 and 19.20 of the Consumer Protection Regulations of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations, 2015. Accessible for free via https://ncaa.gov.ng/media/aubd0slk/ncaa-regulations-2015.pdf
- Aero Contractors, “Cash Ticket Refund request Form” (Aerocontractor) <http://www.flyaero.com/refund/ticket-refund-form.pdf> accessed 10 March 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah, “Why You Can’t Get Compensation for Cancelled Flights” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 3 March 2021) <https://sabilaw.org/why-you-cant-get-compensation-for-cancelled-flights/> accessed 10 March 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah, “The Two (2) Rights Of Any Person Whose Local Or International Flight Is Cancelled In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 27 November 2018) <https://sabilaw.org/the-two-2-rights-of-any-person-whose-local-or-international-flight-is-cancelled-in-nigeria/> accessed 2 March 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah, “Dangerous Flying” Is An Offence In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 21 September 2018) <https://sabilaw.org/dangerous-flying-is-an-offence-in-nigeria/> accessed 2 March 2021
- Pic credit: etubournews
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