By Chinelo Obogo
It was jubilation galore for members of staff of Air Peace at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport when they got salary increase.
The workers became jubilant when salaries were paid and they realised that they were given a raise by the management with some receiving 100 per cent increase, while top management staff got minimum of 10 per cent increase.
When the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Allen Onyema arrived at the domestic terminal of the airport in Lagos on Monday, he was mobbed by the elated workers of the company who danced around him, thanking him for his benevolence, despite the fact that airlines around the world were laying off workers and cutting their pay as a result of the COVID19 pandemic.
Some of the workers who spoke to aviation reporters present said that what was surprising about the increase was that it came when many companies are laying off staff.
Reacting to the development, the Cabin Services Manager, Florence Opiah said the workers of the airline were elated because the increase was unexpected and it came at a time when some organisations are cutting the salary of their staff and others are laying off their workforce. She described the CEO as kind hearted and magnanimous, adding that he cares for the welfare of his workers.
“The increase even came at a time when we are not operating many flights. We used to operate 135 flights a day but now we operate relatively fewer flights and he still gave us such increase across board, to everybody. It was shocking. We could not believe it.
“The raise will boost the morale of the workers to dedicate themselves more to the company. There were even some workers who were contemplating going for greener pastures. I am sure they will stay back now and more people from other airlines will be pushing to come in. I will like to really thank our Chairman. We have been praying for him. God will continue to protect him. He remains a pacesetter. We can never take his kindness for granted,” she said.
When asked what motivated him to give everyone in the company a raise, Onyema said, “My motivation comes from God. I have told Nigerians and the world at large that I created Air Peace because of the love of my country, just to create jobs. I established the airline to create jobs and help my countrymen and women. The airline is not for me. I am looking forward to a Nigerian airline where the workers in generations to come will be able to say my great, great grandfather worked in Air Peace, my grandfather worked in Air Peace, my own father worked in Air Peace, here I am working for Air Peace.
“So it is the legacy that matters to me. I looked at the hardship around and everything, and I decided that whatever little we have, let’s push it back to the staff. It is very difficult now, we have about almost 20 planes stranded abroad, depleting our capacity to do what we know how to do best. Before Covid-19, we were doing about 135 flights day. Now we are doing about 40 to 45, yet I decided to recall every staff. Not only recalling every staff, four months ago, I restated them to pre-Covid-19 salaries. And now I decided that we should double their wages ranging from 10 percent, to hundred percent. Some people got 100 percent increase, some others 80 per cent, depending on where the person’s grade is.”