Posted by Sade Williams
A member of aviation industry think tank group, Aviation Round Table (ART) and Chief Executive, Centurion Securities, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), has warned that the threats by unions in the aviation industry to disrupt the activities of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2), operated by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) over their demand that some workers disengaged by the firm must be recalled remained the greatest threats to the country’s aviation sector.
Speaking at a Channels Television programme, Aviation Today, monitored in Lagos, Ojikutu said if the unions carried out their threats, it would tarnish the image of the country and negatively affect the travelling public, as well as airlines and other businesses operating at the terminal.
Although, according to him, “the unions have the right to go on protests but there must be limits in aviation. If you say you want to disrupt the operations of MMA2 and you call the airlines operating from there to find an alternative, I get worried and I ask, what is the NCAA doing about it? There is nothing that happens in aviation today, good or bad, call the NCAA. If they fail to do it, then something is wrong.
“Disrupting the operations of the airport terminal will affect airlines, who have a responsibility to the travelling public and other operators. If you disrupt an operator, you are simply hurting the nation and giving a very bad image of the country to the outside world. This is a country that wants to concession some of its airports, what are you telling the people that want to come in to buy into this? You are simply telling them not to come and if they don’t, how do you have a meal on your table? That is where my worry is.
“My question is, where does the NCAA come in, in all of this because something came up before I heard about the union crisis? NCAA came up with a report on the number of flights and cancellations not too long ago, I challenged it and it was blamed on the airlines. More than 6,000 cancellations in 10,000 flights in one quarter is worrisome. Is it coming from the airlines alone? Are the terminal operators not part of the reasons, particularly passenger facilitation?
“Let me say this, I am not in the defence of Bi-Courtney but you should ask, how many number of delays came from GAT? How many came from MMA2? The bulk of the delays came are from GAT. The question is how many passenger gates and check oint screenings do we have at GAT and how many are at MMA2? If you look at it properly, then you know that if you cause trouble at MMA2, there will be more delays and cancellations. If that happens, it goes back to these people that are talking of going on strike. It means the airlines are not going to have enough earnings to pay their bills.”
Ojikutu pleaded that instead of disrupting the operations of MMA2, “both parties should come to a resolution but I tell you, NCAA is not doing a good job. I’ve just done an analysis. If the unions go to MMA2 to disrupt flight operations, it will affect the GAT. Already it is affecting GAT without a strike action. Eighty per cent of the 6,000 delays are from GAT without anybody telling you. At GAT, they are restricted by the number of checkpoint screenings and boarding gates which is not the case at MMA2. If they disrupt activities at MMA2 and passengers move to GAT, what happens? It will only increase the problem over there.
“I plead with the unions to sit down and look at the impact of their actions on the public and also the image of the country to the outside world. Especially in this time that my government is talking about concession of airports, if we have these kinds of problems, who will come? They should be concerned with the planned concessions”.