October 1, 2012

Power play, intrigues in aviation sector as air travellers groan


The Nigerian Aviation sector is gradually being killed by power play and intrigues by its regulators and players to the discomfiture of air travellers who are made to bear the pain which is always the fall out of such macabre play. Last week, Arik flight operations were disrupted  by aviation workers unions, Arik responded by suspending its operations for three days .

Despite,the intervention of the federal government and subsequent resumption of flight operation by Arik, it went ahead last Tuesday to include the Managing Director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr George Uriesi  on the list of those blacklisted permanently from its flights.

Trouble began last  week Thursday. Air travellers got to the airport to take their Arik scheduled flights to their various destinations. They were prevented from doing this by aviation workers unions who barricaded Arik terminal at General Aviation Terminal , GAT, and chased away passengers who were about to board their flights.

The unions  claimed they wanted to recover the debts Arik is owning the three  aviation agencies vis: Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, and also aviation handling companies.

This action led to the suspension of Arik flight operations for  three days with attendant loss of revenue to the airline and inconvenience on the passengers.

The unions further said in their statement read by the National President, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN, Comrade Benjamin Okewu that ‘’well the entire unions in the aviation industry, the entire workers under the auspices and the umbrella of their unions are embarking on revenue drive today and from the statistics available to us Arik air is owing FAAN over N7billion, Arik air is owing NAMA over N5billion, they are also owing NCAA over N5billion ,then there is also the component of dollars for all the three agencies, then we also have the handling agencies like SAHCOL Five Hundred and something million Naira, NAHCO N380 million’’

The question is; since when did workers unions have the responsibility of collecting  debts owned their employers by other parties in legal transactions dully carried out. This is why it was easy for aviation watchers to conclude that the unions were being  used.

Though the three agencies have addressed a press conference denying pre knowledge of the action of the workers unions, it has  been difficult convincing Arik that the agencies were not behind the action of the unions. This much  Arik said when they addressed a press  conference.