Nigerian domestic airlines have started to implement pay cuts and staff retrenchment as the negative effect of the coronavirus takes its toll on the travel and tours industry. All domestic airlines in Nigeria had suspended their operations after the Federal Government announced last month that local and international airports will be shut down as part of measures to check the spread of the virus.
An industry source that craved anonymity told Daily Sun that even before the pandemic started, some domestic airlines were unable to pay January, February and March salaries. “In March, many airlines struggled to pay their workers’ wages with many of them admitting that they were unsure of paying this month”s wages”. He told Daily Sun
Meanwhile, the management of Arik Air on Wednesday, announced that it will implement an 80 per cent pay cut for members of staff across board for April 2020 and that from May 1, 2020, 90 per cent staff will proceed on leave without pay until further notice.
The airline made this known in a memo from its Managing Director, Captain Roy Ilegbodu, who explained that the review was due to a sharp decline of 98 per cent of the airline’s revenue as well as current crash in oil prices. He however stated the position would be reviewed on a monthly basis and communications on further developments will be shared as the situation evolves.
Last month, Max Air informed its staff that it will not be able to provide remuneration for them for the duration stipulated by the Federal Government for the lockdown and that if the situation persists, the same would apply. In a letter to staff, the airline expressed hope that if normalcy returns it would review the subject matter and compensate staff in line with services rendered.
Similarly Azman Airline had stopped paying salaries and asked most of its staff to proceed on leave without pay.
At Air Peace, though the carrier’s spokesperson, Stanley Olisa, said the airline had yet to officially decide on what it would do regarding the issue, a source at the airline said since operations ceased, no member of staff have been paid. “We stopped operations around March 25 and till date we have not been paid anything. We were told that when we resume operations, management said it was going to slash salaries from between five to 35 percent depending on your level. But since we stopped operations, we have not received any salary. It is not peculiar to us though, our colleagues in other airlines were worse for it because some were out rightly sacked ,” the source said.
Following this developments, the Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi, has canvassed bailout for the domestic airlines, stressing that by end of April 2020 the minimum some staff would receive would be half salary, to assist in ameliorating these challenging times. He said that the need to slash salaries was because Aero had not sold a single seat since the pandemic forced it to suspend operations.
The airline chief hinted that his management was exploring other options including seeking bailouts or loans from the Federal Government and the airline’s majority shareholders to assist with the payment of salaries should the suspension of operations exceed April, 2020.
Also commenting, the Communications Manager of Dana Air, Kingsley Ezenwa, told Daily Sun that they are waiting for President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive on Monday, 27, to know if the restriction would be lifted or not before taking any decision. However, a source within the airline told Daily Sun that there were speculations that some staff may be told to go on leave without pay if resumption of operations are delayed. The spokesman of Overland Airways didn’t respond to Daily Sun’s inquiry.