The Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) has urged the Federal Government to take immediate steps to address the crisis in the industry.

According to the President of ATSSSAN, Comrade Ahmadu Illitus, one of such crises is the unresolved issue of sacked staff of Aero Contractors Airline based on alleged redundancy by the airline’s management.

Addressing members of the association in commemoration of Workers’ Day held today at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Illitus lamented vehemently that those that were laid off were victims of AMCON’s takeover of the airline.

While claiming that several attempts to reengage them failed, even with the intervention of the Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, he appealed to the authorities of AMCON and Aero Contractors that they should review the case of the sacked staff without any conditions.

The union blamed AMCON for allegedly mismanaging two major airlines — Aero and Arik Air — that were thriving in the industry, claiming that the agency intended to “shutdown Aero and sell off its assets.”

Illitus said Arik’s case was a bit different from that of Aero because before AMCON takeover of the airline, it had better financial stability than Aero but that due to poor corporate issues, the airline neglected business ethics and ran into a debt burden of over N181 billion.

The labour leader said: “Ninety per cent of the debts is in the aviation industry, money owed the agencies, fuel suppliers, contractors and even staff salaries.”

He, however, assured that plans were underway to bring back sacked Aero staff and rejuvenate the industry, adding that “without the airlines, there is no aviation business because all the agencies and other stakeholders are existing because of the airlines.”

The union also frowned at the poor airport infrastructure that prompts many safety and security issues in the industry, including runway mishaps, baggage thefts, stowaways incidents and poor handling of passengers at the nation’s airports.

The ATSSAN leader called on the government to consider privatising the airports so as to move away from “Airport Authorities to Airport Companies” as is the case in Ghana, South Africa and other countries.

The union commended its members for the doggedness and resilience exhibited in the struggle for better conditions of service, particularly the proposed minimum wage of N66,000.

Appraising the budgetary allocations to the agencies in the industry, the union expressed hope that all its demands would be met when the budget is implemented.