Sirika intervenes in Bristow, pilots’ face-off

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Sirika directs relocation of Aviation agencies’ headquarters to Abuja

Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika has intervened in the protracted industrial action by National Association of Air Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), which paralysed activities at Bristow Helicopters.

According to NAAPE, the Minister pleaded with the unions to sheathe their swords pending determination/ outcome of a meeting at the instance of the Ministry of Labour in Lagos on Thursday.

The pilots under their umbrella body on Wednesday threatened to ground the aviation industry in two weeks should the management of the company refuse to recall the sacked pilots and engineers.

NAAPE President, Abednego Galadinma, at a news conference in Lagos, said pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers had resolved to withdraw their services to all airlines if their colleagues were sacked.

Galadinma faulted Bristow Helicopters for sacking 100 pilots and engineers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the company was not saying the truth, since it operated throughout the lockdown period, servicing the oil and gas sector as an essential service provider.

He urged the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to prevail on the airlines to stop the unilateral dismissal of pilots and engineers.

But the management of Bristow Helicopters Limited said the decision to lay off about 100 pilots and engineers was because of its plans to restructure the sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This came barely 24 hours after another airline, Air Peace, sacked over 70 pilots under its employment due to the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

In a statement, the airline said the decision was taken due to the negative impact of the pandemic on its operations.

Bristow Helicopters also noted it would use this period to restructure all aspects of its business model.

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