Nigeria’s major carrier, Air Peace, on Monday sacked over 70 pilots across its fleet and reduced staff salaries by about 40 percent due to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
Punch reports that a member of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers who craved anonymity, said the number of sacked pilots was between 70 and 75 in total.
In a statement on Monday by the spokesman of the airline, Mr. Stanley Olise, the company said that the management took the “very painful, but rightful decision” by disengaging the pilots.
It said the decision followed the situatjon the airline found itself as a result of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operations.
“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 statement said.
It also explained that the pandemic had hit every airline worldwide so badly that it had 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 per cent in one day! Our salaries have always been paid even before the end of the month in the last five years!” the statement said.
Air Peace said it loved its staff but the decision it took was 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,” the airline added.
KanyiDaily recalls that Access Bank had also cut salaries and laid off 75% of its staffs due to the COVID-19 distress that is affecting the operations of the Nigeria’s biggest lender.