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Sacked Turkish Airlines staff not involved in ticket racketeering — Union

Turkish Airlines resumes operations after picketing, to airlift stranded passengers

The National Union if Air Transport Employees (NUATE) has declared persona non grata, Lokman Balkan, the general manager of Turkish airlines, refuting claims seven Nigerian staff sacked by the airline was involved $600,000 ticket racketeering.

In a statement on Monday signed by Ochene Aba, General Secretary of NUATE, the union said the “accusations are blatant and poorly formulated lies.”

The airline had stated last week that it dismissed seven Nigerian staff because they violated various ticketing reservation rules costing the airline significant economic loss to the tune of over $600,000.

Read also: Turkish Airlines sacks 7 Nigerian staff over $600,000 ticket racketeering

But the union explained that the claim that the Airline lost $600,000 is mere phantom.

NUATE further explained that sometime in April, 2023, Turkish Airlines’ headquarters issued a sales restriction circular which allowed sales of only two premium classes of tickets as a response to foreign airlines’ difficulty in repatriating their proceeds to home countries due to foreign exchange constraints in Nigeria.

It added that however , ‘in a contradicting manner the Airline had an advertised fare on the website which was much lower than the permitted fares. Therefore, intending passengers who accessed such fare, but could not pay online were directed by the global call center to approach the Nigerian offices, adding that as the workers could not attend to the customers due to the sales restriction, the passengers resorted to creating ugly scenes at the sales offices which became riotous at times.

”As an image saving measure, the then sales manager asked the sales staff to use the PNR obtained online by the customers to process the tickets if the Airline’s booking system could route the tickets. The sales staff simply complied. As a matter of fact, the then sales manager, a Turkish national, sold this tickets too to confirm that this was the local management’s approved approach to resolving the problem created by the website.

Read also: Aviation authority to sanction Turkish Airlines for maltreating Nigerian passengers

“The Airline’s accountants received all due monies from all tickets sold and all sales report were daily submitted to sales manager, signed by him and accounts department and scanned to Headquarters.

“If monies were not fully received, the account would not have balanced, and sales could not have been concluded. Therefore, no monies belonging to Turkish Airlines is missing. And no staff has taken any monies belonging to Turkish Airlines. Importantly, no staff had any pecuniary benefit from the so called internet sales.

“It is, therefore, disingenuous for the General Manager to hold the workers to the charge of failure to comply with the sales restrictions when it is clear that shortcomings on the part of the Airlines ICT (on the website) combined with Local Management’s decisions on managing an otherwise ugly situation were responsible for the sales in question.” it said.

The Union also said it did not agree with the Management’s positions or its findings, adding that ‘at the so called disciplinary hearing, the union made it absolutely clear that the committee could only be used as a fact finding means as it was not formed in conformity with the negotiated Conditions of Service.

It added that the coerce actions on the part of the General Manager has seriously and negatively impacted on the mental health of all staff of the Airline, causing a number of them to resign without any benefit whatsoever and forfeiting over ten years of service.

“We wish to use this medium to inform the general public and relevant stakeholders that the real reason for the sack of the seven out of eleven employees under these trump up charges is the continued determination to exterminate the union from the Airline which it started in 2020 when it sacked all the members of the Airline’s Branch Executive Council of the Union, a matter that it has refused to rectify till date.

Read also: Turkish Airlines resumes operations after picketing, to airlift stranded passengers

“Finally, NUATE wishes to state that the high-handedness, plain wickedness and undiluted arrogance of Mr. Lokman Balkan, the General Manager of Turkish Airlines in Lagos makes him totally unfit to hold such important position as to manage people. He has demonstrated total disdain for Nigerians and Nigerian laws – even aviation laws.