- Aviation workers have threatened to go on industrial strike action.
- The aviation workers have a now of complaints against the government which they which to address.
- If the strike commences, we can only imagine the untold hardship on airline passengers
No less than 7 aviation unions have threatened to embark on a strike action that may cripple activities in the sectors.
According to Punch, the unions whose protest is over the planned concession of four international airports in Nigeria and the intended demolition of some aviation agencies disclosed this in a statement sent to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.
The Unions joined in the planned strike action include the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), and Air Transport Services Senior Staff of Nigeria (ATSSSAN).
According to reports, the aviation agencies marked for demolition are the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
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It may interest you to know that the international airports considered for concession are Port Harcourt International Airport, Rivers State; Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano State; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos State.
The protesting unions claim that the process of the concession and demolition was not transparent enough and so would not allow it to stand. They added that the government was yet to fully address the issues of workers' welfare and possible layoffs.
The Unions went further to warn successful bidders against the binding agreement with the government or they risk inheriting the baggage on the ground.
Many issues in the aviation sector
Nigeria's aviation sector has been plagued by several issues since the beginning of the year. Asides from the threat to strike and actual strikes by several unions in the sector, there have also been threats by Airline Operators of Nigeria to shut down operations as a result of surging aviation fuel, also known as Jet A1 fuel.
The price of aviation fuel has continued to rise causing airline operators, airline passengers and of course, the government serious headaches. The product which used to sell at N190 per litre rose to about N800 per litre in June this year.
Another major issue which threatened the sector was the trapping of about $464 million worth of foreign airlines’ funds in the country
The funds are proceeds from sales of foreign airlines’ tickets among others that are trapped in Nigeria, as they could not repatriate the funds due to foreign exchange scarcity problems.
This caused some foreign airlines operating in Nigeria including Emirates Airlines and British Airways to announce their intention to suspend operations in Nigeria.
Fortunately, the Central Bank of Nigeria came to the rescue with the release of $230 million in intervention to the airlines.
Speaking on the issues around the industry, a source working with Air Peace who preferred to remain anonymous told Legit.ng that if appropriate steps are not taken to solve the various issues once and for all, a collapse might occur soon. He said:
Sometimes, I wonder if the government truly understand the importance of the aviation sector to the economy. The issue of rising aviation fuel has almost caused most airlines to fold up. Understand that if they do fold up, staff will be laid off and once again rise the unemployment rate in the country. Many people who had found succour in air travel due to the huge insecurity in the country would be in dispair.