COVID-19: AIR PEACE SACKS 70 PILOTS, CUTS SALARIES BY 40%

BY Sodiq Oyeleke & Joseph Olaoluwa

A Nigerian airline, Air Peace, has sacked over 70 pilots across its fleet.
It also reduced staff salaries by up to 40 per cent.

A member of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers disclosed this to one of our correspondents, craving anonymity.

The source said the number of sacked pilots was between 70 and 75 in total.

The management of the airline, however, linked the pilots’ disengagement to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pilots had, on July 22, protested a major pay cut after negotiations with the management over their remuneration broke down.

A statement issued on Monday by Mr. Stanley Olise, spokesperson of the airline, described the sacking of the pilots as “painful but rightful decision.”

Part of the statement read, “The airline cannot afford to toe the path of being unable to continue to fulfil 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 pandemic has hit every airline worldwide, so badly that it has become very impossible for airlines to remain afloat without carrying out an 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 zero per cent-40 per cent 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 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.”

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