Aero Crisis: Management, Labour In Crucial Talks

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Protests continued on Tuesday morning at the headquarters of Aero Contractors, Nigeria’s second largest airline, now grounded for six days, even as crucial talks to resolve the crisis were underway.

The scheduled meeting, between officials from the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, the management of Aero Contractors and striking workers, was yet to begin in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, at the time of going to press.

Another meeting scheduled on Monday in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, did not hold, allegedly because Aero delegation missed its flight, workers claimed.

At the headquarters of Aero, workers continued to sing, demanding that they be re-employed and their demands be met. The airline remained shut and its planes remained grounded even as passengers who had booked online were still stranded across the nation.

Workers say they need better conditions of service from the troubled airline, which has been mired in debts and controversies for about two years now.

“Mrs. Tope Fagbemi, Aero Director, Human Resources and Corporate Services, along with the Ibrus want to kill Aero and render us jobless,” a worker said.

They have been protesting since Wednesday, 13 March and Aero Contractors promptly issued them sack letters for allegedly violating a court order restraining them from embarking on strike.

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Another airline, Dana Air, which is just trying to win back confidence from air travellers after one of its planes crashed in Lagos on 3 June 2012, killing more than 150 people and leaving many others on the ground homeless, resumed flight operations on Tuesday after a brief suspension on Saturday.

Joe Obi, the spokesperson to the Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah, said in a statement that the suspension of Dana Air was lifted after a meeting in Abuja between regulators, the Ministry of Aviation and the management of the airline.

Obi said the aircraft which had a snag over the weekend is to remain grounded until after its air-worthiness has been recertified by Boeing, the manufacturer of the aircraft.

Dana now has only two aircraft flying. The airline used to have five aircraft in its fleet, but one plane crashed on 3 June last year and another one went to My-Technic Company in Turkey for repairs. With the grounding of the latest plane, the airline now has only two planes flying.

According to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, a commercial airline cannot have less than two planes in its fleet.

Passengers are now returning to the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 where Dana Air, Med-View, IRS and Chanchangi airlines operate, even though they do not attract the kind of traffic Arik Air, Nigeria’s largest airline attracts.

—Simon Ateba