The Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), has called for more stability and creation of an enabling environment for the industry to thrive in 2019.
The ATSSSAN President, Mr Ahmadu Ilitrus, made the call in an interview in Lagos on Monday.
Ilitrus noted that the industry had an encouraging performance in 2018, particularly as the airlines recorded zero fatal accident while the availability of aviation fuel also increased.
He, therefore, urged the government to ensure stability in the supply of aviation fuel to enable the airlines carry out seamless operations.
Ilitrus also lauded the present effort in modernisation of airports infrastructure, adding that it must be intensified to ensure sustainability.
“The Abuja and Port Harcourt airport terminals have been inaugurated but I understand that there were operational issues presently that ought to be resolved before the two terminals are put into operations.
“Presently, there is an issue of who to manage the terminals because it was one of the conditions for the grant of the facilities.
“The Chinese Government wants an independent organisation to run the terminals so they can be able to get returns on their investment.’’
The ATSSSAN boss expressed dissatisfaction with the operating conditions of some airports in the country, which he noted was hindering flight services.
“We are still talking about airports that operate only during the day. We need to put in place necessary infrastructure in these airports so they can operate into the night.
“There is no point departing from point A to point B, only to be turned back by the Air Traffic controllers because there are no Air Field Lighting and the landing facility to enable the aircraft land in that aerodrome,’’ he said.
Ilitrus said he was optimistic that now that the country had exited recession that the aviation industry would perform better than it did in the last few years.
“Traffic is growing and more airlines are flying. Even the ailing airlines that have been taken over by AMCON are now coming up gradually.
“One airline that is making a lot of effort is Air Peace because the operation is increasing in terms of fleet and we expect that they should be able to put those aircraft to use.
“This is to provide travel options to Nigerians and other traveling public to those designations they intend to fly into.
“It is our hope that the airline will be able to tidy up whatever issues that are mitigating against the commencement of those operations with the relevant civil aviation authorities,’’ he said.
Ilitrus said there was also the issue of remapping of aerodrome to capture the new facilities at the Abuja and Port Harcourt terminals.
He said the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) ought to have issued Notice to Air Men (NOTAM) in those terminals so aircraft coming into the country would have the knowledge of the existence of those two terminals.
He said usually, the pilots would log such information into their equipment, so as soon as they land, they can taxi seamlessly into those terminals.
Ilitrus also explained that the unions had engaged the aviation agencies in dialogue over the delay in the release of conditions of service of the workers.
“We are presently working on it with the relevant government agencies, as a meeting was held in Abuja on Jan. 3, specifically on this issue.
“Actually, what the Salaries and Wages Commission wants to do is the harmonisation of salaries. It is not a bad thing to harmonise it because presently, we know that there are some agencies in the industry that their salaries are very poor.
“So, when you harmonise all the aviation agencies salaries, it will bring everybody to the same salary level. However, what segregate the agencies will be peculiar allowances.
“However, our worry as union is that the timing is very poor because some documents have been with the commission for four to five years ago.
“So, it was just coincidence that all the documents from the agencies were before the commission at the same time so the commission cannot be saying that all the agencies are competing for a review of salaries,’’ he said.
Ilitrus said the unions were not against the proposed harmonisation, stating that what they were asking for was for the commission to process and approve the documents that had been due for approval.
He said after which a committee could be set up immediately to commence the harmonisation, so at the next circle of the review, the harmonised templates could be applied to all the agencies.
Ilitrus said this was the right way to go because this would ensure fairness as the commission would not hold back a document that had been up to the point of approval just because the commission wants to do harmonisation. (NAN)