The Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria has said that the country’s aviation industry is under threat.
The ATSSSAN President, Ahmadu Ilitrus, said at a rally to celebrate the 2018 Workers’ Day at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on Tuesday that it was disheartening to know that 90 per cent of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria’s N181bn non-performing loans was in the aviation industry.
He stated, “The aviation industry today is under a serious threat. I know that there are challenges such as lack of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul facilities and the high cost of fuel, among others.
“But another problem is that whoever has money feels he can come into aviation to invest without proper feasibility study and deploying the right human and capital resources to manage the airline, which account for the high rate of mortality of airlines, and we are concerned as labour because without the airlines, there is no aviation industry.”
Ilitrus also alleged that the unwillingness of AMCON to fund Aero Contractors, which it took over in 2016, had made the airline’s growth to become stagnant.
He said the union had negotiated and concluded redundancy agreement with the management of the airline but that AMCON had failed to keep to its promise of paying them.
He stated, “It is so sad that while we see a lot of prospects in Aero Contractors, the management of AMCON is not willing to inject funds into the airline to turn around its fortune. As labour leaders, we are in a precarious situation in making decisions.
“If we decide to do what we are used to doing, that is shutting down the activities of the airline, that will not be the best in the circumstance, considering that the initial motive of AMCON was to shut down the place, sell off its assets and everyone goes away.
“Each time I talk to the managing director of Aero, I see a deep commitment to this cause; he has gone out of his way to meet the biggest of the traditional rulers in the country to see how AMCON can make a turn around and look into the affairs of the airline. He has assured us that in the next one month, an additional aircraft is coming and probably the other one that went for C-check. If Aero Contractors is able to have about three additional aircraft, its operations will stabilise.”
According to him, the case of Arik is a little different, as its fortune at the time of AMCON’s takeover was better than that of Aero, adding that Arik’s problem was the absence of corporate governance and not being able to differentiate between funds to plough back into the airline and those to be taken out.
On the ongoing plan by the Federal Government to give out some of the airports to private investors on concession, Ilitrus said the government should explore alternative funding means such as international public financing, or private financing as well as transforming airport authorities into companies that would no longer be 100 per cent owned by the government.
He also stated that the union was considering issuing the government a seven-day ultimatum over the non-payment of the severance package of workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways Limited, after which it would embark on an indefinite strike if the request was not met.
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