From all indications one of the country’s oldest airlines, Aero Contractors may soon be out of business following unsettled labour issues and financial misappropriation by its management.
This unhealthy rivalry between the management of Aero Contractors and labour unions may negatively affect the operators of the airline. Presently, the airline has six serviceable operational aircraft as against its 11 serviceable aircraft.
The crisis has almost crippled the operations of Aero Contractors as labour unions in the aviation sector have vowed not to leave any stone unturned to ensure that all labour related matters were resolved without victimisation of any worker to ensure the survival of the airline.
Few weeks ago, two aviation unions, National Union of Air Transport Employees NUATE and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria ATSSSAN staged a peaceful protest to the headquarters of Aero Contractors over management’s handling of labour issues especially welfare of workers.
Immediately after the peaceful protest, the management of Aero Contractors queried the two labour leaders in the organisation for bringing unions to stage a protest at the airlines headquarters.
The two union leaders who are branch chairmen of National Union of Air Air Transport Employees NUATE and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria ATSSSAN, were early last month queried by the management of Aero Contractors for organising a rally and inviting the media for the coverage.
But the labour leaders have threatened and declared showdown with the management of Aero Contractors over recent developments in the company.
The president of ATSSSAN Comrade Benjamin Okewu told Daily Times that it was unacceptable for the management of the airline to cover up their misdeeds by killing Aero Contractors wanting that the unions will not allow the airline to die that every money spent must be accounted for by the management.
Okewu said it was not in the interest of the organisation to sack their branch chairmen.
Few weeks ago, the unions raised an alarm on issues bordering the financial status of the company calling for investigation into the activities of the airline.
Comrade Benjamin Okewu ATSSSAN president who led all the workers to yesterday’s protest told journalists that after AMCON pumped in millions of naira into Aero Contractors, the airline continued to nose dive and wondered what was going on in the company.
Okewu said after investigation by the unions, it was discovered instead of acquiring more planes the airline was going down and that the money was not used for what it was meant for adding that records showed that the money was transferred into other ventures from Aero account.
He said the unions have called on EFCC to come in and investigate the activities of the airline. “We discovered from our investigation that an aircraft engine which ought to have been leased for $40,000 elsewhere was being leased by Aero Contractors for $70,000. A lot of fraudulent activities took place.”
Okewu said the unions can no longer condole the issue any more as Aero Contractors has the potential of becoming the best airline in the country with dedicated workforce but the fraudulent activities of the Aero management have grounded the airline to this extent adding that they will not to see the airline turned into carcass before acting.
He said there were no structures in the management of the airline hence the fraudulent activities going on in the company.