Aviation Minister Engages Turkish Airlines, Stresses Respect for Nigerian Passengers

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The Honourable Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo SAN CON FCIarb (UK), convened a pivotal meeting with a senior delegation from Turkish Airlines, emphasizing the necessity for the airline to consistently respect Nigerian passengers.

The delegation, headed by the airline’s Vice President in Charge of Africa, Hilemet Mesut Turkseven, included General Manager Lagos, Lokman Balkan, General Manager Abuja, Akin Carleal, and the Turkish embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Imdat Karakoc.

During the meeting, Minister Keyamo addressed concerns about reported instances of disrespect towards Nigerian passengers during flight operations. He stressed the importance of maintaining high standards of customer service and ensuring that all passengers are treated with dignity.

Tunde Moshood, Special Adviser on Media and Communications to the Minister, noted that the Turkish Airlines delegation conveyed the regards of their CEO, Bilal Eksi, to the Minister, expressing gratitude for his intervention during recent union actions that had disrupted their operations. Vice President Turkseven thanked the Minister for his support and reiterated the airline’s commitment to Nigeria, highlighting their 18 years of service since commencing operations in 2006. He praised Nigerians for their unwavering support and emphasized Turkish Airlines’ dedication to cooperating with the Nigerian government and its agencies to foster further growth in the country.

In response, Minister Keyamo assured the delegation that there would be no further disruptions to their flight operations, as the matter is currently before an industrial court. He urged Turkish Airlines to continually uphold respect and dignity for Nigerian passengers.

The Minister critiqued the airline’s communication strategy during the union actions, attributing the issues to the attitude of the Country Manager. “I had to advise your authorities to issue a press statement to calm troubled nerves,” he noted.

The Minister also put forward three key demands to the Turkish Airlines team:

1. **Aircraft Upgrades:** He requested an upgrade to the aircraft used for flights to Nigeria.
2. **Transit Visa Issues:** He addressed the problem of transit visas causing Nigerians to be stranded in Istanbul, seeking a resolution.
3. **Support for Local Caterers:** He advised the airline to support local caterers by serving Nigerian cuisine on return journeys.

Deputy Chief of Mission, Imdat Karakoc, assured the Minister that he would discuss these issues with the Turkish authorities and promised necessary adjustments. He committed to improving the quality of aircraft used, despite stating that the current aircraft were not specifically directed against Nigeria.

This meeting signifies a positive step towards strengthening the relationship between Turkish Airlines and the Nigerian aviation sector, ensuring better service and mutual respect for all passengers.

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