Pilots, engineers threaten to ground all airlines over sack

By our reporter| The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), has threatened to shut down the aviation sector following the recent sacking of pilots and engineers in the industry.

At a briefing on Wednesday, the association gave airlines who have sacked or plan to sack pilots and engineers a two-week ultimatum to rescind the decision, warning that they could no longer guarantee safety.

Air Peace Nigeria’s and Bristow Helicopters had earlier in the week announced the sack many pilots and engineers citing operation difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But reacting to the development at a press conference in Lagos, President of NAAPE, Comrade Abednego Galadima, who called on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to, as a matter of urgency, prevail on these airlines to stop what he called “the unilateral sacking of pilots and engineers,” warned that the body will withdraw services of pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers across all airlines.

The association also demanded that Bristow and Air Peace should immediately recall all sacked pilots and aircraft engineers until all labour issues were resolved, while dismissing the insinuation that the sacked pilots and engineers were not only Nigerians.

Galadima said, “As a result of the known consequences of these illegal actions…, we shall be forced to withdraw our guarantee of industrial peace within the industry if this call is not heeded within two weeks.

“Our union will be left with no other option but to withdraw the services of pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers across all the airlines.”

“To say the 100 pilots and engineers are not only our members is unsubstantiated and we do not know this because the management did not engage us. “Operators, especially Bristow Helicopters, have rendered our members redundant despite assurances by government of support for their businesses in return for operators not laying off staff.

“These operators are already running on lean manpower with disproportionate number being expatriates yet, without regards to our expatriates and local content laws and executive order (5), they gave go ahead to lay off staff under the guise of COVID-19 pandemic.

“And they cannot be using COVID-19 as an excuse because the cessation of flight operations did not affect essential services like the oil and gas and Bristow and Caverton were operating during the lockdown.

“In fact, you’d recall that our members were held by the Rivers State Government during the lockdown.

“So, how can they be using COVID-19 as an excuse,” he said.

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