Dana Air says it has lost over N100m to the ongoing industrial dispute between aviation unions and Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operators of the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) in Lagos.
A statement from the Media and Communications Manager of Dana Air, Mr. Kingsley Ezenwa which disclosed this, says “losing such money in an industry where airlines are still grappling with a myriad of challenges is unacceptable and disappointing to say the least. We do not know how the situation will be in the coming days and we might have no other option than to downsize if the action stretches for too long.”
Hundreds of passengers were stranded as protesting aviation unions yesterday shut down operations at MMA2 operated by BASL. The unions had embarked on the protest alleging BASL’s sacking of 20 employees. As early as 6am, the union members, who defied a morning downpour, barricaded the entrance to the MMA2. This action came in spite of a court order restraining them from embarking on the protest.
The protesting unions are the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).
The unionists, who chanted various solidarity songs, accused BASL management of violating extant labour laws by not recognizing the unions and preventing staff from joining unions in the sector.
The protest continued today as they prevented passengers going to catch their early morning flights, and also airline officials and people with businesses inside the terminal from gaining access to the premises.
The protest also caused heavy vehicular traffic yesterday and today around the airport environment, which extended to some parts of Ikeja and the Agege Motor Road.
Apart from Dana Air, airlines affected by the action include Arik Air, Medview Airline, Azman Air, Max Air and Aero Contractors, which operate flights from the terminal.
There was heavy presence of security operatives including the Police and officers of the Nigeria Air Force in the area during the protest.
Mr Frances Akinjole, General Secretary of ATSSSAN, said the unions were compelled to carry out the action following the refusal of the BASL management to accede to their demands. He said the issue started since May, 2018 when these workers were laid off for indicating interest to belong to unions. ATSSSAN had met the management asking them to reinstate the workers and recognize their rights to join unions but they refused.
He said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as well as aviation security agencies had intervened in series of meetings. Yet, BASL management refused to accede to their demands to avert crisis.
Dana says “while operating our first flight out of Lagos from MMA2, we made alternative arrangement and moved our operations temporarily to the General Aviation terminal (GAT). Our worst fear however is, if the terminal will be able to process the number of passengers when there is a coincidence in flight schedule with over 8 airlines having to operate from the General Aviation Terminal at the moment.”
It adds that “we appeal to the parties involved to resolve the dispute in consideration of the passengers for whom we are all in the industry to serve. Without the passengers, there won’t be any airline, regulator or industry and we believe they shouldn’t suffer for what they did not contribute to.
While we respect the rights of both parties to engage each other based on extant laws, we call on all concerned to intervene and save the industry from further crises. We wish to also reassure our guests of our commitment to continue to offer the best of service at all times.”