Monday 10 September 2012

Air Nigeria winds down operations today

Today, September 10, 2012, Air Nigeria flight operations would officially cease. But the airline could have more to worry about as sacked workers protested unpaid benefits.
Meanwhile, Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, has expressed federal government’s interest in transforming the aviation sector during an AIT programme, Focus Nigeria, monitored at the weekend. She said President Jonathan is working on floating the carrier not long from now.
The protesting workers, who gathered at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, on Friday, to make their grievances known to the company, lamented what they describe as unfair treatment by the management.
The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, had earlier announced shut down of flight operations for a year and immediate sack of about 800 of its workers.
President of National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Isaac Balami, described the situation as “surprising in the 21st century.”
“First of all, there was a time they spent two years… no worker went on leave. You can imagine a pilot, an aircraft engineer, for good two years, no rest,” he said.
“Secondly, they can’t even access health insurance. They are paying tax; they don’t have tax clearance. A particular amount is being deducted from their salary every month and this money is not remitted to the purse of the cooperative society.”
The protesters accused the CEO of selective payment of staff, alleging some members of staff were recently paid May salaries.
Princess Oduah said airports would now be economic centres otherwise known as aerotropolis. She stated that the ministry is shopping for partners interested in investing in the project.
The Minister, in company of Dr. Anthony Anuforo and Mr. John Uriesi, Director-Generals of Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) respectively, said the reform has become even more compelling since domestic airline operators are financially weak. She revealed that airlines should not be run like Kabu-Kabu, where some operate with only one aircraft.
As a means of strengthening the domestic front, the Minister said operators would be assisted to access Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) facility and other long-term funds with a single digit interest rate. This, she said, is being discussed with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Culled: Guardian


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