Following the sack of about 170 pilots and engineers by two Nigerian airlines, Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters, the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has demanded that the action be rescinded within two weeks.
In a separate statement this week, Air Peace and Bristow had announced that they were terminating the appointments of their pilots and engineers, hinging the move on the devastating effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
NAAPE, however, described the move as illegal, accusing Bristow Helicopters of erroneously hiding behind the Covid-19 crisis. He said the company operated throughout the lockdown period, servicing the oil and gas sector as an essential service provider.
Addressing a news conference on Wednesday, August 7, in Lagos, the association President, Abednego Galadinma, gave the airlines a two-week ultimatum to recall the affected pilots and engineers, noting that if they fail to do this, other pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers would withdraw their services to all airlines.
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Galadinma said, “We demand that Bristow and Air Peace should immediately recall all sacked pilots and aircraft engineers until all labour issues are resolved or be grounded by NCAA because of attendant safety concerns created by their action.
“As a result of the known consequences of these illegal actions and our commitment to patriotic fervour, we shall be forced to withdraw our guarantee of industrial peace within the industry if this call is not heeded within two weeks.
The association called on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to urgently intervene in the matter to prevent pilots and engineers from being unilaterally dismissed.
There are indications that more airlines in Nigeria would shed their workforce as the economic effect of the pandemic hits the global aviation industry hard.
In the United States, Virgin Atlantic airline, owned by billionaire Richard Branson, filed for bankruptcy, hinging the move on the Covid-19 crisis.