SIERRA LEONE CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY JOINED ITS ECOWAS COLLEAGUES IN THE 1ST OF AIRPORT TRANSPORT CONSUMER PROTECTION FOR FOCAL PERSONS IN NIGERIA

The Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority’s (SLCAA) Consumer Protection Unit recently engaged with representatives from eight ECOWAS Member States at the 1st Workshop of Air Transport Consumer Protection Focal Persons in the Economic Community for West African States Partner States. The event took place in Nigeria and brought together aviation stakeholders, including prominent airlines and service providers.

On January 29, the Head of the Consumer Protection Department, Madam Kumba Margaret Kamara joined counterparts from Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo, along with representatives from Air Peace, Arik Air, Dana Air, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc. (NAHCO), Aero Contractor, United Nigeria Airlines, Green Africa Airways, Overland Airways, Bi-Courtney Air Services Limited (BASL), the National Association of Handling Agencies, Travel and Tours Operators, and auxiliary service providers.

The workshop aligns with Article 9.6 of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD), emphasizing the protection of consumer rights and outlining the responsibilities of air transport entities, including Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs), Airport Operators, Air Navigation Services Providers (ANSPs), and Airlines.

During the opening session, Captain Chris Ona Najomo, the Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, expressed his enthusiasm for hosting the First Workshop on Air Transport Consumer Protection for Focal Persons in the ECOWAS States. He highlighted the growing importance of protecting consumers in the air transport industry, particularly with the momentum gained across the continent and the pursuit of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) and Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) goals.

Captain Najomo emphasized that successful countries have their own distinct consumer protection regulations, which are often uncoordinated. He stressed the need for clarity and coordination between passengers and airlines, suggesting that regulations should be framed as a partnership between consumers and the industry to foster competition, innovation, consumer confidence, and enhanced air connectivity.

The workshop delved into critical issues such as the balance between protecting consumer rights and ensuring sustainable air services. The discussions also emphasized the importance of globally coordinated regulations to boost passenger confidence and ensure services are provided based on agreed principles while maintaining freedom to fly.

The primary objective of the workshop is to enhance technical assistance and bridge the gap in consumer protection among Civil Aviation Authorities in West Africa. The collaborative effort aims to strengthen the framework for protecting air travellers’ rights and promoting a harmonized approach across¬†the¬†region.

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