FG to enforce law prohibiting aviation workers strikes – Minister
Aviation may have a raw deal with the Federal Government should they decide to embark on strike or protest at nation’s airports as the FG has vowed to enforce the relevant law prohibiting industrial actions in the sector.
Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika said the FG would no longer tolerate strikes and riots in the aviation sector.
He spoke with State House correspondents on Wednesday at the presidential villa, Abuja, in reaction to flight disruption on Monday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, following a strike by Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO) staff members over salary increment.
The strike was later suspended after the management of NAHCO said it had commenced negotiations with its workers.
NAHCO provides ground handling (cargo/ramp), passenger, and other services to several international airlines including Air France/KLM, Qatar, Ethiopian Airlines, Delta Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Turkish Air.
Sirika said the FAAN Act prohibited strikes and riots in the aviation sector.
He apologised to the public and said the government would ensure that the law was henceforth enforced to prevent future occurrences.
“This is very important to the travelling public. First, we apologise to them, our teeming passengers in this difficult moment,” Sirika said.
He also said, “This will not happen in the future by the grace of God. And the reason is simple; aviation is an essential service, the act has been assented to by Mr. President, so strikes and riots around our airports are prohibited by the laws of the land.
“Now that we have the act in place and assented to by Mr President and passed by the National Assembly, we will deal with it according to the law.
“We will ensure no essential service is being disrupted by anybody no matter how aggrieved. There are other channels of channeling issues when they arise but they are not permitted to go on strike because aviation is an essential service and is the law of the land now.
“I will give you an example, there was an airline that had to return to base because it couldn’t land. Imagine if there was a patient on that aircraft. Imagine somebody attending to a very serious issue or matter at hand or business or a student trying to catch up with an exam and then because of somebody who is aggrieved some other person will die.
“Government will no longer allow that. So it’s in the law of the land, check the FAAN act, it’s been assented to and it’s going to take place soon, in fact now, from today we will not allow that.”
He said the government was always willing to listen to any grievances, adding that there are procedures to address such.
“They should please desist from this. It is wrong, inhuman, and not allowed. It is not permitted and we will not be permitting it any longer.”
Nigeria Air will commence operation before May 29 – FG
The Federal Government says the new national carrier, Nigeria Air, will commence operation before the end of the current administration on May 29.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday.
He spoke amid worry about a lingering court case instituted against the project by airline operators of Nigeria.
Sirika gave the assurances during the National Aviation Stakeholders Forum 2023.
He said the Federal Government was already taking measures to overcome the hurdles introduced by the indigenous airlines.
According to him, the project is 98 per cent completed.
“All of the road map items except, perhaps the airline, which in my opinion is at 98 per cent completion, and we will fly within the remaining two months by the grace of God,” the minister said.
“We will also finish the concessions. So, all those things we said we would do when we came in, we did them.”
The minister described as unfair the action of the local airlines, adding that the Buhari government had supported local airlines more than all previous governments.
He accused them of constituting a stumbling block to the actualisation of the national carrier expected to generate new jobs and better opportunities in the industry.
He said the Nigerian Aviation industry is the only one in the world where qualified pilots are without jobs.
He said 50 pilots had come to him complaining about their unemployment status, adding that the national carrier should be able to employ more pilots and create other job opportunities.
He said Ethiopian Airlines, the offered bidder for the national carrier, is highly competent and profitable enough to add value to the Nigerian aviation sector.
Yobe hands over N18bn cargo airport to FG
The Federal Government has taken over the newly launched Muhammadu Buhari International Cargo Airport in Yobe State.
This followed a written request sent to the FG by the state government for effective management of the facility.
The N18 billion facility, sited along Gashua Road, Damaturu, was inaugurated on January 10 this year by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni made the disclosure on Monday, in Damaturu, while launching a book titled: “Governor Buni’s 1,500 completed projects in Yobe State” authored by Mustapha Mohammed Gujba.
He confirmed that the takeover followed a request presented to the Federal Government by his administration.
“I am happy that last week, the Federal Government took over ownership of the newly commissioned cargo airport in Damaturu,” the governor said.
FAAN closes Lagos international airport runways for eight weeks
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has announced the closure of the runways 18R and 36L at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos for eight weeks.
The agency said this in a tweet on Monday, saying it was for maintenance work on the runways.
It however said normal airlines’ activities would not be affected, as the taxi way B-18L would be used for all flight operations.
It stated, “This is to notify the public that runway 18R/36L of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos has been closed for 8 weeks for Maintenance work to carried out.
“Taxi way B-18L will be used for all flight operations.”
Already, it was discovered from NOTAM, a notice containing information essential to personnel concerned with flight operations, that the runaways have already been closed and scheduled to be opened in May 2022.
In June 2022, the agency closed runways 18L/36R of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), for renovation for 90 days.
During the period the runways were closed, airline operators said they incurred huge losses due to the shut down, despite assurances by FAAN that operations would not be affected.
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