Nigeria’s major airline, Air Peace, engaged in evacuating Nigerians stranded abroad, has sacked 69 pilots and cut staff salaries in a restructuring prompted by negative impact of covid-19.
In spite of Nigeria’s plan through the Central Bank to float bailout fund of $500 million to cushion the effects of the pandemic on aviation sector, Air Peace announced up to 40 per cent cut in salaries, depending on the grades of every staff.
Aviation Minister, Mr Hadi Sirika, had hinted that 11 airlines and other operators would get the proposed bailout in June.
The minister said that with the cooperation of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Ministry of Finance, the amount of the palliative due to operators would be announced soon.
In spite of benefitting from pandemic in form of revenue as the only airline engaged in foreign shuttles to bring back Nigerians, the airline, embarked on a downsize to “survive the effect of the pandemic’’.
According to the airline, it is restructuring its operations, hence the reduction of its workforce, Mr Stanley Olisa, the spokesman of the Airline confirmed on August 3, 2020.
“A very painful but rightful decision, in the circumstances the airline has found itself as a result of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operations and financial health, to terminate the employment of some of its pilots.
“This decision was taken for the greater good of the company and its almost 3,000 workforce, the affected pilots inclusive.
“The airline cannot afford to toe the path of being unable to continue to fulfil its financial obligations to its staff, external vendors, aviation agencies, maintenance organisations, insurance companies, banks and other creditors hence the decision to restructure its entire operations with a view to surviving the times,” Olisa said in a statement.
He explained that the Airline was among the ones globally that were hit by pandemic that are struggling to stay afloat and to avoid collapse.
“Even after the cuts in salaries, it was obvious that for us to be able to sustain our operations and survive the times, some jobs must inevitably have to go.
Air Peace said it loved its staff but the decision it took was inevitable “under the circumstances we find ourselves”.
“In order to protect the continuity of majority of the existing jobs and the possibility of creating new ones in future, the survival of the airline is of paramount importance. When everything comes back to normal, those pilots affected today will have a place to come back to in future if they so wish.’’
Representatives of Nigerian Airlines, had earlier advised government to quickly release palliatives to the aviation sector to forestall an impending downsize.
The Managing Director of Med-View Airline,Mr Muneer Bankole, regretted that the aviation industry was the worst hit by the pandemic, which had hammered the global economies.
Bankole noted that government needed to give operators palliatives to mitigate the effect of the losses on operations of the airlines.
He explained that the grounding of aircraft in almost two months would have led to Airworthiness Directives (ADs) on them, while corrosion would have increased due to lack of use.
The aviation sector is not alone in the job loses that has hit the private sector mostly.
The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had earlier carried out a national survey which indicated that Nigerians were losing their jobs as both individuals due to the effects of the pandemic.
According to the report of COVID-19’s impact on employment and income of Nigerians have been widespread.
NBS said that of the 1,950 households surveyed on a nationally representative sample, 42 per cent of the respondents who were working before the outbreak were no longer working.