Air Peace, a Nigerian private airline, has sacked a large number of its pilots following an alleged pay dispute. The carrier attributes this decision wholly to COVID-19 and its inevitable effects on the aviation industry.
According to the Nigerian newspaper The Punch, the number of pilots terminated is between 70 and 75. Additionally, salaries for all employees took a hit, dropping up to 40% across the board.
In an official statement, Stanley Olise, spokesperson for Air Peace, described the situation as “painful but rightful decision.”
The virus forced the closure of Nigerian airspace in March. This left Air Peace and other airlines in the state suffering the consequences. In July, a select few airports resumed operations again. However, at this point, the damage was done.
Spokesperson Olise believes that restructuring costs are the only way airlines can continue to survive in this current climate. After pay cuts were implemented, it seemed that the only way to keep afloat was to terminate some jobs.
“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.”
The survival of the airline was regarded as the highest priority, seeing as the airline’s continual existence can create jobs in the future. Also, once the situation goes back to normal, Olise said affected pilots could return to the airline.
Further, Olise defended the airline’s position. He said that to date, Air Peace had diligently and accurately remunerated its staff.
“Air Peace has never, for one day, ever owed salaries to its workers in almost six years of existence, pilots inclusive. Our salaries have always been paid even before the end of the month in the last 5 years.”
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