Airlines operators grapples to clear backlog after strike

Onwubuke Melvin
Onwubuke Melvin

Nigerian airlines are facing operational issues as they try to accommodate passengers and clear the backlog as a result of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress’ strike demanding the implementation of a new national minimum wage.

Despite the strike being suspended in less than 48 hours, it disrupted flight schedules and caused logistics issues for several airlines, according to The Punch.

The Chief Operating Officer of Ibom Air, George Uriesi noted the difficulty in managing the situation without passing on expenses to passengers.

Uriesi said “You can’t increase your fares because you lost money due to the strike; you take your losses. And you can’t add aircraft just like that overnight. What you do is try to accommodate passengers over the next few days. That is what we have done.

“Our fleet is already maximised in terms of flight schedule, so we tried to accommodate people. This continues to expand the losses because we don’t have seats to sell since we already have people that we are trying to accommodate who already bought tickets.

“So people can’t buy tickets, and we are losing more and more revenue as a result of that. Until you clear the backlog, there’s nothing to sell.”

United Nigeria Airlines is facing similar challenges, as its Head of Corporate Communications, Achilleus Uchegbu, stated that the company has to make sacrifices in favour of passengers.

“A loss is a loss. Those are the sacrifices for the growth of the company and the good of Nigerians. The airlines are also involved in making sacrifices for the good of Nigerians.

“The losses have been incurred. We won’t increase fares because there was a strike. The system will not even allow us to do that because there was a strike that was announced, and a lot of people on their own adjusted their travels and didn’t have to wait for the airlines to do that. But everybody is back to normal operations now,” Uchegbu said.

Meanwhile, Untamed Travels and Tours, Adediran Adewale, explained that the industrial action disrupted the whole aviation sector.

“I had a passenger that was supposed to travel that Monday when the strike started, but I was able to get a seat for the passenger on Wednesday. I don’t know if other people are facing other challenges. Because the passenger could not travel on Monday, we had to change the travel date, and that attracted a fine.

The organised labour had embarked on an industrial action to press home their demand for an acceptable minimum wage template and the reversal of the hike in the price of tariff for Band-A customers.

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