The National Union of Air Transport Employees and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria have raised the alarm over an alleged plot by some groups to take over Aero Contractors and Arik.
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, the nation’s bad debt manager created by the Federal Government, owns majority shares in both Arik Air and Aero Contractors.
The General Secretary, NUATE, Ocheme Aba; and Deputy General Secretary, ATSSSAN, Francis Akinjole, said the unions had accused the management of Aero Contractors of planning to reduce 40 per cent of its workforce.
The union leaders also alleged that the management of Aero had refused to address the company’s failure to complete the redundancy payment for those it asked to stay at home since 2016.
As a result, the unions in a joint statement appealed to the National Assembly, ministers of Aviation, and Labour & Employment, to initiate an intervention that could save both Aero and Arik.
In a joint statement, NUATE and ATSSSAN, said, “We would have been silent on Arik Air for now, but for the fact that the House of 5A’s lease arrangement that was chased out of Aero has found its way into Arik Air. Disturbingly, there is evidence of a case of collusion between the management of Aero and Arik Air. As we understand, the new lease arrangement was to come into operation last Friday but got shelved.
“Though we are yet to be furnished with Arik’s share of the spoils under this arranged contraption called a lease, we can say authoritatively that, like in Aero, the House of 5A’s aircraft have been gifted Arik’s juicy routes of Lagos/Abuja/Lagos, Abuja/Port Harcourt/Abuja, and Abuja/Kano/Abuja based on the released schedule.”
It added, “We consider this to be mischief beyond bounds, and a joke taken too far. Surely, we will not co-habit with this toxic agenda. Therefore, we shall immediately direct all Arik workers to withdraw all services from this aircraft if, and when, it comes to our knowledge that indeed the same level of toxicity as in the case of Aero also applies in this case in Arik.”
The aviation union, therefore, asked the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika; the National Assembly and other relevant stakeholders to initiative probes into the circumstances surrounding the rumored selling of one or both of the airlines to “the promoters of 5A’s for cheap after the airlines must have been forced to the ground by an artificially created financial crumbling.”
“We also call for a strong and deeply reflective interface among the Ministry of Aviation, AMCON, and the legacy shareholders of Aero Contractors and Arik Air for the purpose of knocking out a deal that could truly rejuvenate the airlines,” the statement added.
The management of Aero Contractors has, however, responded to the claims of the unions tagging them as “wild and unfounded.”
In a statement released by the management of Aero Contractors, they described the actions of the unions as “pure mischief.”
The statement read in part, “On the House of 5A’s, every partnership was done with the aim of improving the revenues of the airline, particularly in relation to our unserviceable equipment and ensuring standard customer service. The question is what was our revenue before, during and after the exit of the House of 5As? They should please respond.
“We are conscious of the challenges we are facing and have been prudent with our expenses, and doing our best to take care of staff welfare. We urge the staff and unions to desist from this attitude and support the company to overcome its challenges.”
Article first published on the Punch Website