A Nigerian airline, Air Peace, has sacked over 70 pilots across its fleet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The same airline reduced staff salaries by up to 40 per cent.
According to a member of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers who craved anonymity, about 70 pilots have been sacked.
The management of the airline has linked the pilots’ disengagement to the disastrous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pilots had protested a major pay cut on July 22, after negotiations with the management about their remuneration broke down.
A statement issued on Monday by Mr. Stanley Olise, the 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.”