Strike grounds Air Nigeria’s flights nationwide and regionally

By Oyise Oghene

National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) on Friday grounded domestic, regional operations of Air Nigeria over backlog of salaries and other factors as pointed out by the association.

This recent shut down has led to series of disappointments, as furious passengers stood at the airline’s ticketing counter as well as check-in counters asking questions of the airline.

Bizteller gathered that trouble started early in the morning around 6am when pilots and engineers of the airline downed tools leading to a technical grounding as there was no pilot to fly the aircraft and no engineers to certify it air worthy even if a pilot wanted to fly it.

As at 10am, none of the airline’s flight had taken off. Its 7am flight VK201 to Abuja was still on ground at that time and so was their Lagos Port Harcourt 7.35 flight VK231 and the Lagos- Owerri 8.40 flight VK243.

In the heat of delays and pressure from passengers who were beginning to get frustrated and were gradually lashing out, Air Nigeria started boarding some of their 7am Abuja flight on the 10am Chanchangi flight NCH192.

One passenger to Port Harcourt who spoke to our reporter expressed disappointment he said,

”I am very unhappy and disappointed with Jimoh Ibrahim’s airline. I am flying to Port Harcourt and the flight was 7.35am, they just announced boarding now, this is after 10am, and I get a text from line that the flight is cancelled”

All these delays and cancellations will cause a ripple effect that would affect the entire airline’s schedule for the whole day and even the next if eventually it flies that day.

NAAPE in a letter issued, May31 to management of Air Nigeria had said it would continue to shut the airline on the first day of every month until salaries of the preceding months are paid , pension deduction not remitted for over seven (7) months, tax refund and tax clearance issues are paid and co-operative deductions not yet remitted are remitted

“In light of all mentioned above, NAAPE has resolved to down tool starting 1st June, 2012 indefinitely. We appeal to all parties involved to adequately intervene and mandate Air Nigeria Management to properly address all outstanding grievances as soon as practicable.”

“NAAPE members would work with Management in order to return back to normal operations as soon as all the issues are addressed. These issues have all been discussed and debated on since November 2011 with no headway”.

Air Nigeria currently flies 10 regional routes including, Abidjan, Accra, Banjul, Brazzaville, Cotonou, Dakar, Douala, Libreville, Monrovia, Sao Tome route all of which have been affected by the strike.

At 11.40am the flight announcer made it clear that all Air Nigeria flights for the day are cancelled due to operational reasons and in a few minutes all Air Nigeria flights were cleared of the Flight Information Display Screen.

Meanwhile efforts by our reporter to get the reaction from management of Air Nigeria on the matter proved abortive.

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