- Airline: To survive, some jobs must go
- Unions shut Bristow Helicopters
Two weeks after the chairman of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema expressed frustration with the demands of his pilots and threat to shut down the airline, the management of the carrier, yesterday, sacked over 75 of its pilots.
The airline was, however, silent on the number of pilots it disengaged in its statement to the media. But pilots who spoke to New Telegraph disclosed that over 75 pilots we sacked while the carrier is planning to sack more engineers, cabin crew and other workers because of its revenue that had dwindled considerably as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline reiterated that anything short of pruning its huge workforce and cutting of salaries will lead to the collapse of the airline.
“Therefore, we decided to review the salaries being paid to all staff. The new salaries reflect a 0%-40% cut of the former salary depending on the salary grades of the staff. Even after the cuts, it was obvious that for us to be able to sustain our operations and survive the times, some jobs must inevitably have to go,” the airline said. Air Peace majorly operates B737 and other aircraft types.
Many of its airplanes had gathered dust on the tarmac across airports in the country following very low passenger traffic since domestic flight operations resumed on July 8. The carrier, in disengagement letters signed by Deputy Human Resources Manager for Air Peace, attributed the action taken by the airline to the “negative impact occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic with the company unable to continue with your employment.”
The letter equally stated that in accordance with the terms of their contract of employment, they would be paid one month’s salary in lieu of notice in accordance with their contract of employment as at February 2020. According to the disengagement letter, the pilots would be paid based on pro rata payment of salary for July 2020 based on the date of recall to duty.
The airline said it was a painful decision it had to take in the face of COVID-19 pandemic that has had negative effect on not only aviation in Nigeria, but global aviation sector. According to the airline,
“The Management of Air Peace wishes to state that it has taken 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.
“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.”
Just last week, the management of the airline put its entire workforce on notice, threatening that it would not hesitate to wind up its operations if the pilots and cabin crew continue to resist the voice of reasoning by accepting what the airlines had to offer in terms of remuneration.
Onyema, while reacting to the pilots’ work-to-rule action embarked upon for the better part of last week, expressed disappointment that after having intimated the pilots with the prevailing unfavourable circumstance which warranted the pay cut, the pilots still decided to embarrass the airline.
Onyema lamented that “it is very unfortunate some of you chose to embarrass this airline at this point in time through various flimsy excuses such as refusal to come to work on very spurious reasons.”
He reminded the pilots that for the better part of 2019, majority of them flew an average of 25 hours a month and the company did not withhold their salaries and allowances and all were paid promptly. In a memo to the pilots, he wondered how the pilots refused to understand and co-operate with the salary cut which he had promised will soon be reviewed.
He said presently, the airline had not achieved 40 per cent of its load factor since the nation’s airspace was opened and travel resumed on July 8.