SUBSIDY STRIKE : AIRLINES LOSE BILLIONS OF NAIRA
By LAWANI MIKAIRU
Airports across the country were all grounded last week following the strike embarked upon by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and all its affiliate unions in the aviation industry which left hundreds of passengers stranded at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos and all the domestic terminals locked and deserted.
Aviation unions under the aegis of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) had given notice to intending passengers to shelve their travelling plans as all airports in the country will be shut down while the national strike lasted.
Although there were skeletal flight operations at the international wing of the airport on Monday when the strike began, the situation was not the same the following day as members of the aviation unions chased away all the foreign airline operators from their various counters on Tuesday leaving hundreds of passengers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport stranded.
Earlier, the Federal Government's delegation to South Africa's ruling party, Africa National Congress' (ANC) centenary celebration were on Monday stranded at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos on arrival from South Africa.
Investigation showed that airlines like Air Nigeria, Arik, Dana, First Nation, Associated, Landover, IRS, Aero and Chanchangi may have lost an average of N650m daily to the strike.
According to sources, ''a breakdown of the potential losses indicated that on the average, each of the airlines generate at least N70m on air ticket sales on all their route networks daily while airlines like Air Nigeria, Arik, Dana Air and Aero generate higher revenues daily.'
For instance, daily ticket sales of IRS, according to its Media Manager, Mr. Yemi Dada, is N50m on all its routes while that of Dana Air according to the Corporate Affairs Manager, Mr. Tony Usidamen, is over N100m. Also, the aviation agencies like the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA and Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, will also be deprived of revenue since the agencies get five per cent of ticket sales, en route and navigational charges, airport charges and fuel surcharge, among others.
The agencies make about N100m daily from these charges alone. It is not immediately clear the volume of financial losses suffered by foreign airlines but flight disruptions would have significant consequences for airlines such as British Airways, Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa that operate daily flights to Nigeria.