Picketing Indigenous Airlines: The Issues
unions in the Aviation Industry threatened to picket airlines that do not allow their workers to join the different unions that exist in the sector and also condemned the airlines for failing to employ indigenous pilots and engineers into their organisation.
For proper appreciation, the major unions in the industry include the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Employees Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).
The Union Leaders expressed disappointment that beside Aero Contractors that allows its workers to enage in union activities, none of the other indigenous airline operators permit workers to be unionised.
The issue raised by the workers union against the airlines appear to be increasing and degenerating as tempers rose recently when the union leaders discovered that workers of some of the airlines were owed salaries and other allowances.
The union leaders could not understand the fact that a sensitive sector like the air transport industry, some airlines would not pay remuneration to staff, including pilots and engineers and recalled with sadness the fate of workers of the defunct Air Nigeria that were denied salaries for months and when the airline closed shop, they could not even claim pension because they were not members of the labour unions.
They argued that there are about seven airlines in the sector carrying out scheduled operations who allegedly prevented their workers from joining unions, namely: Arik, Med-View, Chanchangi, Overland, IRS and Dana Airlines.
The workers union remarked that whereas all foreign carriers allowed their staff to engage in union activities in the sector, their indigenous countrparts except Aero are hindering their workers from joining the unions so that they would not fight the excesses of their management.
According to the union, one of the negative effects of stopping the workers from belonging to their various labour unions was to prevent them from forming a formidable front in demanding their rights, adding that the airlines could not have owed their workers several months salary if they were members of the union.
Secondly, the labour leaders argued that safety could be jeopardised in the sector as a result of unpaid salaries to workers, particularly at the period when the federal government are taking pragmatic approach to ensure safety in the industry through the transformation agenda.
Addressing newsmen recently on the issue, the Acting Secretary General of NUATE, Mr Abdulkareem Motajo, said the unions in the aviation sector were planning to storm the airlines and enforce unionism in their organisations, questioning why the local airlines found it difficult to permit their staff participate in union activities unlike their foreign counterparts.
Mr Motajo assured that the unions would do all within its powers to actualise total unionism in the industry. “What we should ask ourselves is why are these airlines not comfortable with their staff joining the unions? This does not argue well for our industry, especially when the foreign carriers allow their staff to join us. We will surely do something about it soon.
NUATE also accused the airlines of not employing indigenous pilots and engineers, stressing that they had a penchant for expatriates and threatened to ground their operations.
In the case of NAAPE, they were irked by the recent comment by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who said that expatriates still dominate the Nigerian Aviation Industry due to lack of capable and efficient technical personnel among Nigerians.
Senator Uzodinma posited that the scenario would continue for a long time until the Nigerian College of Aviation Techonology (NCAT), Zaria, Kaduna State, was repositioned to produce the needed manpower in the sector.
NAAPE Executive, however, expressed reservation over the senator’s observation, noting that several young Nigerian graduates from various aviation colleges around the world were roaming the streets without any means of livelihood.
The union warned the airlines to change their attitude towards Nigerian professionals otherwise, it will in conjunction with other leading unions in the sector ground their operations.
President of NAAPE, Mr Isaac Balami, opined that Nigeria has enough technical manpower to take over the management of airlines and aircraft in the industry, adding that preference for expatriates was an aberration when both possess the same qualification and experience.
On the contrary, Senator Uzodinma said many Nigerian pilots and engineers are not type-rated on modern aircraft. He believes that since the demise of the Nigeria Airways, it has become difficult to groom young pilots and train them on different aircraft types.
According to him, existing airlines do not have the resources and time to embark on such training which largely national carriers and mega airlines undertake.
Besides, the Deputy Managing Director and Head of Flight Operations, Arik Air, Mr Ado Sanusi is quoted as saying that his airline had employed about 120 Nigerians as pilots and engineers.
Sanusi said “we are sending 120 pilots to the United KINGDOM for training, we conducted optitude test for them and these are the ones that are qualified, and we engaged Nigerian engineers and we have sent for training.
However, in swift reaction to the planned picketing of domestic airlines by the aviation unions, the operators of the airlines have denied any policy from the companies barring workers from joining the unions.
The Managing Director of IRS Airlines, Mr Yemi Dada said the airline doesnot have any policy that stops workers from belonging of unions and challenged the union executives to find out from the workers if they were genuinely interested in joining the unions or not.
He noted that the threat by the unions to picket the airlines would not improve anything if they were not sure whether the workers were actually interested in belonging to unions since the process is voluntary.
Industry operators are of the opinion that union leaders should think and reflect on what led to the collapse of the Nigeria Airways and Air Nigeria as well as ask themselves why is it that Nigerian airlines are not doing well? “You ought to have viable industry before talking about unionism.”
Rather, than confrontation, the union leaders should think of ways of ensuring the survival of the industry by urging government to take actions that could help to grow the aviation sector and boost air travel.
Experts say multiple taxation was heaping so much cost on the airline operators, adding that the operating environment was not conducive as the cost of aviation fuel in Nigeria is the highest in the world and advised union leaders to shelve the picketing of airlines to save the industry.
NAMA Boosting Security Of Nigeria’s Airspace
The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), established via the Act of Parliament, has the mandate to provide safe, efficient, effective and economic air navigation services to airspace users, through deployment of new technologies and dedicated workforce.
The vision is for NAMA to be one of the leading Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) in the w
NAMA’s Acting Managing Director,orld.
Mr Mathew Pwajok, said the agency had initiated relevant projects to enable it live up to expectation.
He spoke recently when he featured at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.
Pwajok said the government was ready to install Category 3 Instrument Landing System (ISL) in three international airports in the country.
He listed the airports as: Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, Port Harcourt International Airport and the Katsina Airport, bringing airports with Category 3 ILS to five.
According to him, ILS is a navigational equipment that provides lateral guidance for an aircraft, sky guidance for the aircraft and the longitudinal guidance for the aircraft when landing.
“Navigational facility is one of the very critical requirements for access into an airport safely, efficiently and economically. We place very high premium on the procurement and installation of navigational equipment.
“Over the past five years, we have deployed significantly a large number of navigational equipment. I can go through some of them by justifying my statement.
“Currently, we have installed what we call Category 3 Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Lagos and Abuja airports.
“We are also planning to install addition ones in Kano, Port Harcourt and Katsina.”
The NAMA chief, who explained that Category 3 landing system was the highest category for landing anywhere in the world, said that government was set to invest heavily to ensure that all the nation’s international airports had the facility.
Pwajok said that lighting system would complement Category 3.
He said that Category 3 approach system was also required to guide pilots, using the instrument landing system.
“Currently, we have installed instrument landing system of Category 2 that requires what we call low visibility operations.
“In operations, where the visibility is below 800m and not lower than 300m, we use what we call a Category 2 instrument landing system.
“For a Category 1 instrument landing system, which are few, you need 800m visibility or more.
“That is to say, visibility must be about 1km (1,000m) for you to be able to do a Catigory1 landing system, the lowest of the three categories.
“For Category 3, when the aircraft and the flight crew are adequately certified for it, with the visual lighting system available, you can basically land in zero visibility, “he said.
Pwajok said that Category 2 ILS was installed in Sokoto, Kano, Minna, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Yola, Jos, Enugu and Benin airports.
He said that Category 2 ILS was currently being installed in Ilorin, Ibadan and Akure airports, noting that some state airports such as Gombe, Kebbi, Bayelsa and Anambra had already installed Category 2 ILS facilities.
The NAMA boss explained that the airport at Lafia in Nasarawa State, which also had Category 2 ILS had not been opened to services because it had not yet been inaugurated.
Pwajok said that Categroy1 facilities were still being used in few airports, pointing out that government had planned to replace them with Category 2 ILS.
“We have other equipment that can guide airplanes to airports and we call them Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Range (VOR), a ground-based electronic system that provides information for high and low altitude routes and airport approaches.
“The VOR is like a broadcast station. It transmits information. Unlike radio station where you tune and hear music, for this navigational facility, when you tune, it gives you directional guidance.
“It directs you for example, if you are going to Lagos, it shows you where the direction to Lagos is. So you fly on that flight path.
“It will also give you the distance to where you are going as well as distance from where you are coming from,” Pwajok said.
The NAMA boss further said the agency was currently upgrading control towers in four international airports to enhance air traffic management.
Pwajok said that the control towers, installed over 10 years ago, were obsolete and as such needed to be upgraded.
“On our project, we currently have a safe tower project. In 2005/2006, we have some air craft crashes.
“In 2007, the Obasanjo government implemented what we called the safe tower, which simply refers to automated air travel management system at the control towers of Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt airports.
“Now, these systems after over 10 years are due for upgrade and currently that is what we are doing to upgrade the control tower at the four international airports- Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
“ This is to bring them in line with the right capacity, the right functionality and capability for enhanced air traffic management at these airports,’’ he said.
Pwajok explained that a total raider coverage, that was inaugurated over 10 years ago by then President Goodluck Jonathan also needed an upgrade.
He said the Federal Government approved N28 billion for the upgrade of the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON).
“They are in nine locations – Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, Ilorin, Obubra in Cross Rivers, Maiduguri, Talata-Mafara in Kebbi and Numan in Adamawa.
“These equipment provide a complete coverage of Nigeria on raider, so aircraft flight within the country are seen and controlled by air traffic controllers in the radar.
“So, the equipment are being upgraded to be in line with global standards and also in line with the expectations of increased traffic volume and requirement for safety and efficiency of flight.
“So this project is currently ongoing and we are doing a survey movement raider and ground control at Lagos and Abuja that will provide surface guidance for aircraft,” he said.
He said once they were upgraded, there would then be a surveillance control from departure gate to arrival gate that would be fully automated.
He added that there would be an automated system that would sequence aircraft on departure, stressing that this would completely reduce delays.
“At the moment what we do is that the air traffic controller uses his judgment to determine which aircraft comes first.
“But automated system will detect the speed of an aircraft, the performance and the direction the aircraft is coming from and will now have an air traffic controller to sequence them on arrival.
“We are implementing that in Lagos and Abuja, and hopefully by this year, this project will be completed as it is one of our key projects,’’ he added.
Pwajok said the country currently has 13 modernised and automated control tower projects to enhance air traffic control at the airports, adding that similar projects had been completed in Zaria and Kastina states.
He said that the control towers had been integrated with metrological data, where regular weather reports would be brought into the system.
On navigation, he said the agency had deployed a very High Frequency Omni-directional radio-range (VOR) Doppler that would guide aircraft, either over flying on airspace or flying from one airport to the other.
He said that this equipment had replaced initial landing system instrument, adding that the satellite navigation system that gives precision on aeronautical management had been deployed.
According to him, Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) have been installed in 26 locations – 24 in airports, one in NAMA and one in NEMA headquarters to facilitate search and rescue.
According to him, this VSAT will provide digital exchange of information at a very high speed and voice exchange of information using ground radius and air ground communication between air traffic controllers and pilots.
He said if fully completed, it would enhance air ground communication, ground to ground communication and electronic management of information of flight movement.
The NAMA boss assured that the agency would do all within its powers to boost air safety in Nigeria.
By: Gabriel Agbeja
Agbeja writes for News Agency of Nigeria NAN
COVID-19: Arik Airline Sacks 300 Staff
At least 300 staff of Arik Air have been relieved of their appointments by the airline’s management.
This was announced in a statement by the airline on Friday.
It blamed the sacking on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The press statement was titled, “Arik Air management declares 300 staff redundant”.
The company explained that a redundancy package would be provided for the affected workers with the help of the aviation unions.
The statement read in part, “Arising from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the constrained ability of the airline to complete heavy maintenance activities and return its planes to operations, stunted revenues against increasing operational costs, the management of Arik Air (In Receivership) has declared 300 staff members redundant to its current level of operations.
“The leadership of the impacted unions has been contacted to negotiate a redundancy package for the affected staff.”
The airline added that over 50 per cent of its workforce of over 1,600 staff have been on furlough in the past six months.
In a separate statement also forwarded to our correspondent by its Public Relations and Communications Manager, Banji Ola, the airline apologised to passengers whose travel plans were disrupted by the protest carried out by the National Union of Air Transport Employees on December 3, 2020.
The picketing disrupted operations in Lagos and prevented the airline from processing passengers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Domestic Terminal 1 and 2.
S’East Leaders Laud FG Over EndSARS
South-East leaders on Saturday, lauded the Federal Government on the matured and responsive manner it handled all issues relating to the EndSARS protest and agitation.
The leaders of the zone, which included Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members as well as traditional, religious and youth leaders, gave the commendation in a communiqué issued after their meeting with a Presidential delegation in Enugu.
The presidential delegation was led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who is the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We thank President Buhari for the speed and restraint with which he handled the EndSARS protest, which has engendered peace throughout the country, especially the South-East.
“We, therefore, request the President to look into demands of various groups and youths with a view to resolving them,’’ the statement, which was read by the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, Governor Dave Umehi, said.
It also called for joint operation by security agencies and local vigilant groups into all forests in the zone to flush out criminals and killer herdsmen with AK47 rifles.
“But we pledge our commitment to continuous coexistence with peaceful herdsmen who have been living peacefully with us.
“We stand for an indivisible and united Nigeria, built on love, fairness, equity and justice. We believe that under this platform – NIGERIA; we are bigger and stronger,’’ it said.
It also called on the Federal Government to continue its support and diplomatic push for the former Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be elected as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The statement thanked the Federal Government for the timely interventions in Akanu Ibiam International Airport rehabilitation as well as intervention in road infrastructures in the zone.
“We are grateful for the attention given to the second Niger Bridge and completion and inauguration of the Zik’s mausoleum.
“However, we urge the Federal Government to give attention to the completion of the current road projects within the zone,’’ it said.
The statement said that the states in the zone will provide money for the compensation for those affected by the EndSARS protest, help to rebuild police stations and their logistics; while engaging the youths constantly to forestall any violent development in the zone.
“We have plans to set up various empowerment programmes to gainfully engage the youths. The governors also plan to mainstream the youths in their governance to give them a sense of belonging.
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