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African airline operators lose $12bn to COVID-19

Nigeria’s airline operators and their counterparts on the African continent experienced of 64 per cent reduction in its capacity, which is about $12 billion loss in income, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) equally disclosed that as a result of the pandemic, the industry suffered a dire reduction of 51 per cent seats offered by airlines, which is about 2,851 million passengers, with about $391 billion loss of income.

As a result, organised labour operating in the aviation sector in Nigeria has charged the Federal Government to ensure that airline operators have easy access to foreign exchange.

The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), in its deliberations at a symposium on “labour relations in a pandemic: challenges to employers and employees,” lamented that the pandemic introduced a sudden shock into industrial relations practice in the aviation sector.

The symposium had captains of the aviation sector, administrators, professionals, consultants, as well as other unions in attendance. They noted that staff welfare and well-being were sacrificed through pay cuts, redundancies and compulsory leave without pay, furloughs and, in some cases, outright sack.

The union, in a communique signed by its general secretary, Olatunji Sekoni, opined that sacking the workforce was not a solution, because the pandemic situation was not the making of the employer or the employee.

NAAPE called on aviation employees to show consideration for employers through concessions to ensure continued survival of their organisations.

“It was further observed that employers have the ‘duty of care’ and the maintenance of a standard of care in circumstances of pandemics or economic recession,” Sekoni said.

The union stated that institutions of industrial relations must also help in formulating policies and procedures that would help mitigate the effects on both employers and employees.

Participants at he seminar, however, recommended that, in pandemics and the likes, employers and employees and their organizations should embrace dialogue aimed at a win-win outcome

It was also advanced that employees could consider reduction in their emoluments to curtail redundancy or sack, while employers should abide by the terms of employment contracts as much as possible.

“In periods of pandemics and the likes, employers should endeavor to ensure safety at work and comply with the Employee Compensation Act,” the communiqué added.

In the same vein, participants charged government to provide quick mediation in labour cases within the industry, encourage stable policies as much as possible, ensure aviation personnel are well trained, put employee support fund in place, improve health care services within airports and reduce airport charges.

The participants at the symposium thanked government for supporting airlines with palliatives and requested for more government support owing to the enormous losses the airlines have suffered.


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By Meletus EZE
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