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Aviation: Managing Strikes And The Fiscal Chaos

Aviation: Managing Strikes And The Fiscal Chaos

Murtala Muhammed International Airport

Aviation unions under the aegis of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, the National Union of Air Transport Employees and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers on called off their strike action against Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited on Thursday, last week but the effects on operators and stakeholders at the airports can’t be remedied.

Six domestic airlines operating at the MMA2 had earlier on Thursday, temporarily moved to the General Aviation Terminal as a result of the industrial action.

Dana Air, Med-View Airline, Azman Airlines, Aero Contractors and Overland Airways operate their flight services from the MMA2 but have been unable to function normally from the terminal due to the strike action.

While it was gathered that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other security agencies met with the unions and the BASL management on Thursday night and an agreement was reached for the firm, which is the operator of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two, to place the sacked workers on whose behalf the strike was called, on redundancy while they negotiate their benefits, among other demands.

The terminal was under siege on Wednesday and Thursday last week when aviation workers barricaded the entrance to protest the alleged sacking of 24 staff members by the BASL over their interest to join the unions.

Following this strike action, Dana Air has threatened to downsize its workforce if the industrial action against the BASL lingered even as it said it had lost about N100m due to the crisis.

The Media and Communications Manager, Kingsley Ezenwa, stated, “We wish to sincerely apologise to our teeming guests, who missed their flights as a result of the dispute between aviation unions and Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, operators of the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2. While operating our first flight out of Lagos from the MMA2, we made alternative arrangements and moved our operations temporarily to the General Aviation Terminal.

“Our worst fear, however, is if the terminal will be able to process the number of passengers when there is a coincidence in flight schedule with over eight airlines having to operate from the General Aviation Terminal at the moment. For now, we have lost over N100m to the ongoing action and losing such money in an industry where airlines are still grappling with a myriad of challenges is unacceptable and disappointing to say the least. We do not know how the situation will be in the coming days and we might have no other option than to downsize if the action stretches for too long.”

“Without the passengers, there won’t be any airline, regulator or industry, and we believe they shouldn’t suffer for what they did not contribute to. While we respect the rights of both parties to engage each other based on extant laws, we call on all concerned to intervene and save the industry from further crises,” he added.

As the spokesman for BASL, Steve Omolale, puts it such needless strikes were acts of economic sabotage and a sustained campaign to truncate operations in the industry. Nevertheless, it is a shame that the Federal Government’s attention is only gotten via strike actions.

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