By Dipo Olowookere
A passenger with Air Peace identified as Mr Christopher Aniagboso got more than he bargained for on Monday when he was de-boarded by the airline over claims that he could not communicate in English during safety briefing.
During safety briefing for passengers in the over-wing exit seats, the passenger asked the cabin crew to translate the briefing to him in Igbo language and not English as is the standard, claiming Igbo language is his preferred choice of communication.
However, the cabin crew declined Mr Aniagboso’s request and when he refused the offer by his co-passengers on the same flight to translate what was being said in English to him in Igbo language, the airline asked him to de-board.
Reacting to the issue, spokesman of Air Peace, Mr Chris Iwarah, said the antics of the passenger of not being able to communicate in English were purely to delay the flight as efforts to relocate him from his seat to the other proved abortive despite the intervention of the cockpit crew.
According to him, the passenger was earlier communicating to the airline’s ground staff in fluent English before the onboard incident.
“When all efforts to have Mr Aniagboso cooperate with the crew failed, the crew advised him to change his seat as the flight was already running late. He declined the advice to change his seat.
“The captain of the flight, who was eventually briefed on the development, also did everything to secure Mr Aniagboso’s cooperation to no avail. At this point, our crew members were left with no other alternative than to advise Mr Aniagboso to disembark to enable the flight depart.
“Only those who were able to clearly understand and express their willingness to perform their safety responsibility are allowed by aviation regulations to sit in the exit row. It is also clearly stated in the safety cards that only those who can speak English are allowed to sit in the exit row.
“All through Mr Aniagboso interaction with our ground staff, he communicated in fluent English. So, his claim of not being able to communicate in English at the point of the safety briefing was meant to disrupt and delay the flight.
“Air Peace takes pride in promoting the use of all local languages on board our flights without discrimination. We encourage our crew to speak the local language whenever it is possible to do so. But we do not allow passengers with ill motive to disrupt our flights and endanger the safety of our esteemed customers and crew.
“Conducts with the potential of jeopardising the safety of our esteemed customers and crew are not welcome on any of our flights,” the airline’s spokesman said in a statement.
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