Airlines choking on high repair, fuel costs — REPORT

By Lawani Mikairu

Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers, ATCs, yesterday commenced two days disruption of early morning domestic flights across the country to press home their demands for better working condition.

The disruption is expected to last for three hours each day between 6 am and 9 am, after which a full blown strike would be declared after two weeks.

The action has already affected the flight schedules of many airlines as they had to reschedule.

The action of the air traffic controllers is coming after another ATC, Mr. Aniekan Effiong Inuk, died in the early hours of Monday, November 22, 2021 while on duty at the Nnamidi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, NATCA, blamed the death of its members on stress-related complications associated with poor working conditions.

NATCA said in a statement issued yesterday: “That commencing from 0600 UTC today, 23rd November 2021,  ATC units nationwide should operate flow control. That all departures should be spaced at 20 minutes interval. That all international flights are exempted.

“That all ATCOs should endeavour to be on high alert should there be a need to escalate this exercise beyond flow control, we are ready to further such actions. 

‘’That this exercise will be for two days and will be strictly executed at the four major airports, with strict coordination from adjacent aerodromes before any start up is issued.”

Speaking further on the grievances of the controllers and action to be taken in another statement, titled: ‘’An SOS On Poor Air Traffic Control Working Conditions And Staffing,’, signed by Abayomi Agoro, President of the association and Rev. Agbonlahor Felix, General Secretary, the union said: “Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association, NATCA, rose from an emergency meeting convened over the tragic, painful and avoidable exit of one of our diligent and dedicated colleague Mr. Aniekan Effiong Inuk in the early hours of Monday, November 22, 2021.

“ The council observed that within the last two years, Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association has lost nine of her members on active service due to stress-related health complications.”

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