Why Air Peace lost N700m In 1 Day: Details
Nigeria’s largest airline, Air Peace has bemoaned the recent activities of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, on its business.
A development which grounded their daily operations, thus creating massive flight disruption and ultimately denying the airline over N700 million in one day.
The incident has further created serious upset to many Nigerians who wondered about the rationality behind Air Peace’s involvement and why the unions would engage in such activity on a day when the airline voluntarily airlifted stranded Nigerians in war-torn Sudan.
Vanguard Aviation World had reported that Air Peace airlifted 277 evacuees from war-torn Sudan to the Abuja airport with its Boeing 777 aircraft at no cost.
However, stakeholders have faulted the organized unions’ action, thus calling on the airline to sue NLC and TUC, stressing they are not above the law.
Also, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, directed the unions to stay away from the aviation industry, stressing that their actions are inimical to air safety.
It would be recalled that the unions’ official last Wednesday, stormed the Lagos Airport and took over Air Peace, check-in counters, disrupting operations due to an alleged misunderstanding they had with the Governor of Imo State Hope Uzodinma.
The group held that no flights should be operated into Owerri airport because Uzodinma had disrupted their May Day activities earlier in the week.
The protesters barged into the airport destroying and causing havoc at the airport while the security officials did nothing.
In the wake of the development, the management of Air Peace raised alarm over the deliberate massive disruption of their operation by the unions.
My business sabotaged as NPF, others watch —Allen Onyema
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Allen Onyema, the unwarranted actions channelled to his business by the unions is uncalled for.
He lamented that he feels unprotected following the development.
He said: “You can imagine how I felt, while I was out there in the war front trying to rescue Nigerians, the NLC and TUC went disrupting every Air Peace flight across the country today.
“We lost over N700 million as a result of the unions’ action. For somebody who has contributed so much to the nation, how do we get that money back?
“This is so insensitive of the NLC and TUC. They chose today to disrupt our operations why? For something that does not even concern Air Peace. Because the governor disrupted their May Day activities, therefore no flight should go to Imo State.
“They wrote to us that we should not fly to the state. Already we have a contract with the passengers, not NLC or TUC. They have no right whatsoever to instruct an airline not to obey the contractual relationship or obligations they have to their passengers.
“They do not have that right. It is a shame to our nation that security agencies are watching while an airline is out there doing all it can for the country was being attacked by some people, making sure our operations were destabilized causing massive delays and massive cancellations.
“Who is going to bear the brunt? Yet this same airline is out there in Egypt risking the lives of their crew and spending hundreds of millions of naira on behalf of this country.”
Stay away from aviation business, FG warns NLC, TUC
However, as a reaction to the development, the Federal Government through the FAAN, has directed the unions’ to desist from engaging in union activities in the industry.
According to the Managing Director, FAAN, Captain Rabiu Yadudu, “The action of the organized labour is unacceptable and a deliberate plan to undermine aviation and other workers.
“We have written to the minister of aviation telling him the government needs to protect the sector from the action of the NLC, the airports are not places for anybody to come and exercise violent behaviour or mob action.
“We will not take it, What happened to Air Peace was very regrettable and just a sign of ego massage and I think that has no place in aviation. NLC should stay away from aviation, I think picketing needs to evolve. Nobody pickets in modern society now.”
Meanwhile, the development has raised much concerns, as stakeholders insisted that it is an abuse of power and that the airline should set up a legal team to address the issue judiciary as a way of forestalling it in the future.
According to the President, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Nigeria, and former Chief Executive Officer of Associated Airlines, Alex Nwuba, “We need to engage NLC under the leadership of Comrade Joe Ajaero to separate aviation from labour issues with the State government
“Aviation must speak one voice, enough of contradictory voices. If he continues to channel his energy in the wrong place, he will be put on the aviation no-fly list as an industry treat.”
Similarly, former military commandant, Murtala Mohammed Airport, Group Captain John Ojikutu, said: “The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, needs regulations to come hard on the union, in the same manner, the disruptive passengers are dealt with. These irresponsible acts of the unions that may bring us to disrepute in the aviation international community should be stopped now.
“Any disruption in the airport operational area of airport security restricted area must be considered as acts of unlawful interference that need to be legally sanctioned. What has been happening to the industry from the unions are acts of unlawful interference too many.”
Also, former presidential aide and broadcaster, Reuben Abati, stated that if he is the owner of the airline, he will feel discouraged to help Nigeria again.
He noted that the Air Peace boss had in the past spent his money, and resources in an effort to evacuate Nigerians from South Africa during the xenophobic attack.
In his words: “Air Peace should seek redress in a court of law and NLC cannot say that they are above the law of Nigeria.”