Aero CEO, Capt. Ado Sanusi (left) with Mr. Aminu Ismail, Executive Director, AMCON at the roll out ceremony after the completion of C-check on a Boeing 737-500 aircraft at Aero MRO facility in Ikeja earlier in the year
As reports of the planned industrial unrest between the organised labour in the nation’s aviation industry and the management of Aero continue to attract attention, stakeholders have said the timing of such unrest was wrong following landmark achievements of AMCON in the sector. AMCON took over the management of Aero Contractors Airline and appointed a receiver manager to run the affairs of the airline, which would have gone under by now if AMCON did not intervene. AMCON also made strategic interventions in a number of other airlines and committed huge funds to save the sector from complete crisis – a development that was heavily applauded by industry experts.
The major grouse of the organised labour is an alleged “refusal” of AMCON to approve and make resources available for the settlement of arrears of salaries and terminal benefits of staff that were declared redundant when AMCON took over. But a source close to AMCON who spoke to us on condition of anonymity said the organised labour is misleading its members as well as the general public as some of their demands on Aero or AMCON cannot stand to reason. He said they should rather be happy that AMCON intervened and support them to help revive the airline.
He said, “I do not think the so-called organised union is serious. They need to appreciate the effort of AMCON at ensuring that the airline in question did not die like many other airlines before it. I know that the management of Aero led by Capt. Ado Sanusi has been engaging this same organised labour to resolve all outstanding issues. So why plan to disturb operations? I have been privy to some of those meetings and I can tell you that some of their demands are not justifiable by any parameter of business you want to employ to measure them. AMCON is not a charity organization. The only business AMCON has in Aero, Arik or any other business it took over is to first and foremost recover its own investment. Therefore AMCON is also a cheated stakeholder here. AMCON is also as hurt as the so-called organised labour because it is also battling to recover the huge money it invested in the airline.”
Stretching the argument further, he added, “I do not have the exact figure but I understand AMCON since intervening in Aero has injected over N10billion, which has successfully helped the airline stabilise. The additional funding, from my understanding was for the purposes of providing support for the airline towards growth, fleet expansion and job creation. Within the period too, AMCON has stabilised flight operations, improved on time performance by over 67 per cent and revived passenger confidence in the Aero brand. With the support of AMCON, Aero has also achieved and sustained safety and business sustainability, extension of MRO hanger & certification of MRO by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which enabled the airline to complete Nigeria’s first successful C-check. Therefore it is important for the leadership of the organised labour that is threatening Aero and AMCON to note that if AMCON did not step in, all these accomplishments would not have been possible.”
In spite of all these positives, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), implored the Minister of Labour and Employment and his Aviation counterpart to call on AMCON and the Receiver Manager of Aero to order to avoid any disruptions of operations at Aero Contractors Airline. In a communique at the end of its national executive council meeting with theme: Enhancing Union-Management Collaboration for Sustainable Growth and Development in the Aviation Industry in Nigeria in Abuja, ATSSSAN President and Deputy General Secretary, Ahmadu Ilitrus and Frances Akinjole, said: “The NEC frowns at the failure and deliberate frustration by the management of AMCON, of the almost two years old redundancy agreement signed between ATSSSAN and other unions on one hand, and the management of Aero Contractors on the other hand.
“While the NEC empathises with Aero Contractors management, it posits that the refusal of the AMCON management in Aero to avail approval and the resources for the settlement of arrears of salaries and terminal benefits of staff members declared redundant on the alleged directive of AMCON, is not only inhuman but a breach of the terms of the redundancy agreement. The NEC calls on the Minister of Labour and Employment and his Aviation counterpart to call AMCON management and the Receiver Manager of Aero to order to avoid any disruptions of operations at Aero Contractors Airlines.”