Since the Federal Government shifted the re-opening of some airports by two weeks, there have been indications that the once vibrant sector may further plunge into a deep crisis soon.
The sector, according to some local airline workers and stakeholders, is currently grappling with several problems, ranging from coronavirus pandemic, depleted funds due to the international lockdown, and looming job loss, among others.
The staff of most of the local airlines in Nigeria are going through bad times; some of them have even described the month as Black April. While few are going to be paid half of their salaries, some have been told not to expect salaries at the end of the month, and others could lose their jobs.
In separate interviews, some staff of Air Peace, Arik Air, and Dana Air lamented over fears of losing their jobs, or their monthly earnings, as they have been either told not to expect full salaries, or any salary at all by the end of the ‘Black April’.
In the case of Arik Air, which was acquired by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, findings by Nairametrics revealed that the management has informed about 1,800 workers that it can only pay them half of their salaries.
A manager in the airline, who prefers anonymity, told our reporter that the management had told all workers across the nation that it would only pay half of the workers’ salaries for obvious reasons.
He said, “It was so sad when we were informed, but I think our case is still better than our colleagues in smaller airlines that were told not to expect salaries at the end of the month. Nobody planned for what happened and we have no other choice but to re-strategise in order to make ends meet.”
That is not all. The source also disclosed that the workers would be in for another shocker in a few weeks from now. “Being paid 50% of our salaries is not really a big deal, but the plan of the airline is to right-size the workforce. Information I got from Lagos confirmed that about 50% of the workforce may be forced to resign and that is more devastating than slashing salaries by 50% due to lockdown,” he added.
Mixed feelings trailed the case of Dana Air. While there are no signs of job losses, its about 700 workers are not happy. When the management of the airline paid them half salaries in March, a lot of them were hopeful that the situation would improve by April.But their hopes were dashed when they were informed by the same management that the airline would not be able to pay the April salaries, except the situation changed.
“A lot of us were happy even when we were paid half salaries, but became sad when we heard we should not expect anything in April. How are we going to cope? We have families to cater for. We could not buy much food before and during the lockdown because there is no money,” one of the staff of Dana, who prefers anonymity, told our reporter.