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Why we fired 75 pilots – Nigeria’s airline operator Air Peace + FULL STATEMENT

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One of Nigeria’s commercial airline operators, Air Peace, has reportedly sacked 75 pilots and hundreds of other supporting staff.

The company, which confirmed the sack of the pilots in a statement obtained by Platforms Africa, however, said that it took the “very painful but rightful decision, in the circumstances the airline has found itself of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operations and financial health.”

The pilots who were at different cadres were sent to the labour market over seeming irreconcilable differences between the management and the labour union on labour and remuneration matters.

Air Peace, which has a footprint in local and international flight operations spearheaded the evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa during the heat of xenophobic attacks.

The airliner, a source close to talks between the workers and the management told Platforms Africa, earlier mulled right-sizing measures like salary cuts and others to mitigate effects the COVID-19 pandemic has on its entire operations, a “plan that doesn’t go down well with staff.”

The company, however, said that it settled for the “very painful but rightful decision, in the circumstances the airline has found itself of the devastating effects if the COVID-19 pandemic o its operations and financial health.”

Here below is the full statement.

PRESS STATEMENT

The Management of Air Peace wishes to state that it has taken a very painful but rightful decision, in the circumstances the airline has found itself as a result of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operations and financial health, to terminate the employment of some of its pilots.

This decision was taken for the greater good of the company and its almost 3000 workforce, the affected pilots inclusive. The airline cannot afford to toe the path of being unable to continue to fulfill its financial obligations to its staff, external vendors, aviation agencies, maintenance organisations, insurance companies, banks and other creditors hence the decision to restructure its entire operations with a view to surviving the times.

The pandemic has hit every airline worldwide so badly that it has become very impossible for airlines to remain afloat without carrying out internal restructuring of their costs. Anything short of what we have done may lead to the collapse of an airline as could be seen in some places worldwide during this period. Therefore, we decided to review the salaries being paid to all staff. The new salaries reflect a 0%-40% cut of the former salary depending on the salary grades of every staff. Even after the cuts, it was obvious that for us to be able to sustain our operations and survive the times, some jobs must inevitably have to go.

Air Peace has never, for one day, ever owed salaries to its workers in its almost six years of existence, pilots inclusive. Rather the management of Air Peace has always been known to be increasing salaries of its employees periodically without being prompted by staff. In fact, in one fell swoop, Air Peace increased the salaries of pilots by over 100% in one day! Our salaries have always been paid even before the end of the month in the last 5 years!

So we love all our staff. This decision is inevitable under the circumstances we find ourselves. In order to protect the continuity of majority of the existing jobs and the possibility of creating new ones in future, the survival of the airline is of paramount importance. When everything comes back to normal those pilots affected today will have a place to come back to in future if they so wish.

The decision is a reflection of the negative impact of the pandemic on airlines and aviation worldwide. We are in trying times. Even the biggest airlines in Europe, America, Middle East, Asia, Australia and, indeed, Africa, are all either slashing jobs and cutting salaries in order to remain afloat or are shutting down. Air Peace is not immune from these challenges.

SIGNED

AIR PEACE

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