May 23 (THEWILL) – It appears that Nigerian carrier, Aero Contractors, is planning to cut its workforce by 40%.
The 63-year-old airline is currently home to more than 700 direct aviation jobs, even as it is in receivership from the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
However, two major aviation unions, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Senior Personnel Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) opposed the carrier’s downsizing proposal. , arguing that the airline has yet to complete the severance pay of those it has asked to stay home since 2016.
The unions have appealed to the National Assembly, the Ministers of Aviation, Labor and Employment to launch an intervention that could save Aero Contractors and Arik Air, as well as the workers.
According to the unions, the reports claiming that Aero’s planes are too old to fly are unjustifiable and are intended to force the airline to disappear because the airline has an MRO subsidiary.
The unions have alleged ulterior motives on the part of some hidden forces, who they claim engineered a bogus rental agreement with a 5A house where the airline was operating the lease at a total loss, that they had an arrangement which allowed them to have only three seats in a 180-seat Aircraft at N35,000 each, regardless of the fare category charged.
Speaking at a forum organized by the unions, NUATE General Secretary, Comrade Ocheme Aba said, “Specifically, we call for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the rumored sale of one or both airlines to low-cost 5A promoters after the airlines had to be grounded by an artificially created financial meltdown.
“We also call for a strong and deeply thoughtful interface between the Ministry of Aviation and AMCON and the former shareholders of Aero Contractors and Arik Air with the aim of reaching an agreement that could truly rejuvenate the airlines, one way or another, and resolve the inherited owners’ imbroglio once and for all.
“We call for a complete halt to further attempts to truncate genuine redesign efforts to keep these airlines on the road to recovery. Specifically, we call for a halt to further attempts through House of 5A to force any phony lease contract down the throats of Aero Contractors and Arik Air.
“We also make an impassioned appeal to AMCON that no form of weariness should come to hinder the efforts to realize the plan to turn the fortunes of the two airlines around. We wish to share with AMCON our unwavering belief that the task can and must be accomplished. However, everyone must be on deck and working harmoniously. To this effort, we pledge our cooperation and collaboration.
In its reaction, the management of Aero Contractors described all the allegations made by the unions against it as far-fetched and unfounded.
The airline has argued that it is sheer malice that when things are going well the unions keep quiet, but when challenges arise they run fast with wild demands and threats.
The airline questioned why its staff, knowing the challenges facing airlines in today’s operating environment, are always in a rush to compromise confidential information to the public and make it a topic of discussion.
“Any allegations regarding House of 5A’s General Manager and Charles Arumemi Johnson are baseless. Charles is a very knowledgeable staff member of Arik Air owned by AMCON who also owns Aero Contractors so there is no conflict of interest. He is instrumental in the recently launched Aero portal, which has given the site a facelift and made it more user-friendly, compared to the previous website.
“On the House of 5A, each partnership has been made with the aim of improving the airline’s revenue, particularly with regard to our out-of-service equipment and ensuring standard customer service. The question is, what was our income before, during and after the release of House of 5As? They should answer please.
“He also underlined that Aero’s management is aware of the challenges we face and has been careful with our spending, and doing our best to take care of staff well-being.”
Explaining in more detail, Aero added that the current management has decided to create the four Strategic Business Units (SBUs): Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO), Aviation Training Organization (ATO), Airline Operation and Rotary Wing, in order to improve the efficiency and profitability.
“There is no Nigerian carrier without over-indebtedness caused by the operating environment. And all the major airlines in the world have faced similar challenges but have taken strategic steps to turn the airlines around. It is unfortunate that the airline industry operates on thin margins and that airlines are always striving to be leaner and smarter to stay afloat.
“Whatever decisions are taken by management, they are usually taken with the involvement of the unions. It was at the request of the unions that the director general called a public meeting last week. We believe that as revenues begin to improve over the coming months, following strategic engagements with potential partners, the fortunes of the airline will improve,” the airline added.
AMCON had in 2016 dissolved the board of directors of Aero Contractors Airlines and appointed a director to oversee the day-to-day affairs of the airline. With this, AMCON became both majority shareholder and creditor of Aero.
The debt management company’s intervention was intended to protect the airline’s brand heritage and also protect the public interest in maintaining and improving the robust, high-quality service for which the airline has been known for decades. years.