NIGERIA’S aviation minister Senator Hadi Sirika has intervened in the industrial dispute between the National Association of Air Pilots and Engineers (Naape) and Bristow Helicopters which threatens to paralyse flights across the country.
Like all other aviation operators in Nigeria, Bristow Helicopters had to suspend its activities during the coronavirus lockdown. As a result of the lockdown, the company suffered huge losses and now that it has resumed operations, it decided to sack 100 pilots and engineers as part of a cost-cutting exercise.
Frequently used by Nigerian politicians and members of the elite, Bristow Helicopters offers chartered flights across the company. With the company’s management announcing that it will go ahead with the redundancies, Naape has said it will embark on an indefinite strike, which could paralyse all aviation activities across Nigeria.
This would effectively ground Nigerian politicians and members of the elite like traditional rulers, businessmen, entertainers, etc. To avoid this scenario, Senator Sirika has intervened, calling on Naape to sheathe its sword pending the outcome of a meeting at the instance of the labour ministry in Lagos today.
Naape had threatened to ground the aviation industry in two weeks should the management of the company refuse to recall the sacked pilots and engineers. Naape president Abednego Galadinma, said pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers had resolved to withdraw their services to all airlines, if their colleagues were sacked.
Mr Galadinma faulted Bristow Helicopters for sacking 100 pilots and engineers due to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying the company was not saying the truth, since it operated throughout the lockdown period, servicing the oil and gas sector as an essential service provider. He urged the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to, as a matter of urgency, prevail on the airlines to stop the unilateral dismissal of pilots and engineers.