The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has issued a two-week ultimatum to airlines who have sacked or plan to sack their pilots and engineers under the guise of COVID-19 to reverse the decision after which pilots across all airlines would withdraw their services to the airlines.
The association has also tackled Bristow Helicopters for sacking 100 pilots and engineers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing the company was not telling the truth as it operated throughout the lockdown period servicing the oil and gas sector as essential service.
Abednego Galadinma, president of NAAPE, made these known on Wednesday at a press conference at Airport Hotel Ikeja where he said the pilots and engineers have resolved to withdraw services of pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers across all airlines.
Recall there has been a spate of terminations of contract of pilots and engineers across various airline reaching 170 so far from Bristow Helicopters and Air Peace all linked to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
However, NAAPE has called the attention of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to as a matter of urgency prevail on these airlines to stop the unilateral sacking of pilots and engineers.
“We demand that Bristow and Air Peace should immediately recall all sacked pilots and aircraft engineers until all labour issues are resolved or be grounded by NCAA because of attendant safety concerns created by their action,” Galadinma said.
“As a result of the known consequences of these illegal actions and our commitment to patriotic fervour, we shall be forced to withdraw our guarantee of industrial peace within the industry if this call is not heeded within two weeks. Our union will be left with no other option but to withdraw the services of pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers across all the airlines.”
Responding to questions, Galadinma discountenanced the Bristow statement which indicated that the termination of their 100 pilots and engineers would affect both Nigerians and expatriates stating that it was just a ploy to get rid of Nigerians.
“To say the 100 pilots and engineers are not only our members is unsubstantiated and we do not know this because the management did not engage us,” Galadinma said.
“Operators especially Bristow Helicopters have rendered our members redundant despite assurances by government of support for their businesses in return for operators not laying off staff.
“These operators are already running on lean manpower with disproportionate number being expatriates yet, without regards to our expatriates and local content laws and executive order (5) they gave gone ahead to lay off staff under the guise of COVID-19 pandemic.
“And they cannot be using COVID-19 as an excuse because the cessation of flight operations did not affect essential services like the oil and gas and Bristow and Caverton were operating during the lockdown. In fact you’d recall that our members were held by the Rivers State Government during the lockdown, so how can they be using COVID-19 as an excuse.
“It is on record that Bristow Helicopters operated throughout the lockdown supporting oil and gas operations with government approval and guarantees service contracts in the same national interest but are now using COVID-19 to force redundancy on our members,” he said.