The air transport workers under the sponsorship of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) have brought up their concerns regarding the employment that is emerging and awaits employees who are working in Nigeria with foreign airlines, in case the trapped funds and issues are not addressed at the earliest possible. The concerns have been raised at a time when the frequencies of jobs in Nigeria have been reduced by the foreign airlines and at the same time, Emirates Airlines has disclosed that it is planning to dismiss its operations due to the trapped funds in the country.
Last week, the International Air Transport Association urged the government to release the funds and prioritize the same. The association also disclosed that the trapped fund reached $464 million in July since.
The concerns of air transport workers have been raised at a time when jobs in Nigeria have been reduced by foreign airlines.
In a letter that was signed by the general secretary of the union, Ocheme Aba, and addressed to the minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, the union stated that the trapped funds posed a threat to the livelihood and employment of thousands of foreign airline employees should further significantly cut in service or a complete shutdown of these airlines’ operations occur.
The letter also mentioned that collateral losses would be ahead of the union if the situation was not addressed on an urgent basis, as service providers that rely almost solely on foreign airlines — such as ground handling, inflight cuisine, logistics, aviation security, etc., including jobs. Unfortunately, this is already apparent from the operations cuts brought about in recent weeks as a result of the deadlock. He also noted that the union is fully aware of the difficulties that are being faced by the State currently due to the severe shortage of foreign exchange earnings and are completely aware that the situation does not have any simple solutions available.
The union requested the minister not to be intimidated by the magnitude of these and other issues.
However, the general secretary emphasized that the union encourages the association to persuade the Federal Government to take extraordinary measures that are required keeping in mind the difficulties to overcome the quagmire due to the obvious catastrophe that will undoubtedly strike the country if the situation is not improved quickly enough. Such a step may involve the usage of crude oil swaps to at least partially offset the backlog, the official said.
Looking at the current scenario, the union requested the minister not to be intimidated by the magnitude of these and other issues that are now limiting the sector’s expected expansion. Aba also said in the letter that the union offers their hands for support to the ministry in whatever way possible, and whatever that counts for at this time where a single help will be enough for everyone. The union and its people will equally make their contribution in this trying time by making themselves available for the stakeholders meeting, which has been ordered to address this severe matter and come up with a solution for same. Concluding, the union secretary also mentioned that they are hopeful for God to help them to overcome this difficult time.