How ATSSSAN protest disrupted 1900 travellers passengers of the airline

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The shutdown of Murtala Mohammed Airport Terminal 2 (MMA2) Lagos, on Tuesday, by protesting unionists disrupted travel plans of approximately 1,900 paid up passengers of the airline.

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Ibom Air, George Uriesi, in a statement disclosed that, Ibom Air had 31 flights scheduled for the day, 98 per cent of them either originating, terminating or linked to an originating flight from Lagos, all of which was disrupted by the demonstration.

According to him, the Air Transport Service Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) were protesting the sack of over 34 of its members by the MMA2 operator, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) “without due process”, which made passengers and service providers unable to gain access in and out of the terminal.

Ibom Air had in a statement signed by the management informed passengers of the situation, early yesterday.

It read: “This is to bring to the attention of our esteemed passengers and the public, that our operating terminal out of Lagos, the Murtala Mohamed Airport 2, operated by Bicourtney Aviation Services Limited has been completely closed off to workers and passengers alike by the Labour Union, very early this morning.

“Efforts are currently being made to resolve the situation; however, please note that this action will greatly impact our flights scheduled in and out of Lagos today.

“We greatly regret the impact of this unexpected action on your day’s plans as we urge you to kindly stay close to all our communication channels for subsequent updates.

The airline in another update, directed its passengers to the the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), where it operated the remaining flights of the day from, which came at an extra cost and huge inconvenience.

In a WhatsApp post, the COO bemoaned the loss of revenue for the airline from perishable catering service already paid for and delivered; rescheduling of about 1,000 flights, among other unplanned additional cost in order to get the passengers to their destinations.

He wrote: “Let us put in perspective, the practical consequences of the labour action taken today at MM2.

“For starters, my airline had 31 flights scheduled for today, 98% of them either originating, terminating or linked to an originating flight from Lagos. This meant that we disrupted the programs of approximately 1,900 paid up passengers.

“Only God knows how to fully quantify this in not just economic, but also trauma terms. For us the airline, a lot of the catering ordered, paid for and delivered for our flights today is now wasted (due to perishability).

“We were forced to reschedule at least 1,000 already booked and confirmed passengers on other flights from tomorrow, costing us heavily in lost revenue (having to remove seats from sales inventory) and wasted man hours, while placing severe and unnecessary pressure on the system.

“We also had to organize (at considerable additional cost, not to mention huge inconvenience) to operate in and out of GAT today. For the service providers- ground handlers, outsourced security, etc, plenty unnecessary and unexpected loss of revenue. Huge waste of man hours.

“All in all, it was a largely unproductive day. Something the industry can hardly afford at this critical time! The sort of very, very, very bad day that I hope we never see again as an industry (sic)”.

According to Uriesi, the development amounted to another net loss of image for Nigeria’s local aviation industry, which keeps on being chipped away at, both domestically and internationally.

“We cannot and should not just keep on dusting these things off and carrying on as if nothing untoward happened. We need to change direction. We need to find a way to shed our old skin and move forward”, he added.

The union has temporarily called off the strike, pursuant the acceptance by BASL to recall the 34 members laid off and an undertaking to pay their salaries, following the intervention of the Ministry of Labour, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and others.

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