The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers ( NAAPE) has petitioned the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority ( NCAA) over the sack of six pilots and four ground staff by Azman Air, describing the action as callous.
In a letter to the agency in which the Minister of Aviation, Captain Hadi Sirika was copied, said Azman’s actions are unlawful, alleging that the airline criminalised the pilots in the face of other airline operators.
The letter signed by NAAPE Deputy General Secretary, Umoh Ofonime addressed to the Director General of the NCAA with Ref NS/GS/NAAPE/vol. 089/2020 dated November 9, 2020 with title: Unlawful sacking of Nigerian pilots by Azman Airline Management read: “We write to bring to your attention the unlawful and unilateral sacking of Nigerian pilots by Azman Air management on the 6th of November, 2020. The management of Azman did not stop at just sacking the pilots but also went ahead and criminalised them by instructing fellow airline operators not to employ them.
“We find both actions provocative, callous and unacceptable to us. A situation where pilots are forced to work under the atmosphere of fear and intimidation is nothing but a good recipe for breach of safety and security of the airspace.
“We therefore call on you sir, to use your good office to intervene and restore law and order. This will give room for social dialogue and amicable resolutions of whatever the issue.”
On Friday, November 6, 2020 Azman Air sacked six pilots, the airline’s Cabin Service Manager/Trainer, Account Officer in Abuja and two ticketers in its Abuja station.
The airline also notified the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) of this sack reminding them of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed to avoid the pilots in the face of allegations that a ‘cabal’ exists within the AON structure to continuously suppress pilot employment.
The pilots that were sacked are Captains Jibrin Saidu, Abdulkarim Abubakar, Jika Keghtor, First Officers Shehu Jibrilla Umar, Ibrahim Isa Musa and Bello Garba. Others affected are Isa Yamta Cabin Service Manager/Trainer, Account Officer Abuja Station and two ticketers at the Abuja station.
Despite the fact the airline is expanding its routes and purchasing more aircraft, the managing director of Azman Air, Faisal Abdulmunaf earlier reacted to the allegations, saying that some members of staff were sacked as a result of the impact of COVID19 on the aviation industry.
He said: “The only thing I know about is some of the staff were terminated due to reductions of our flights as a result of low demand because of COVID-19 impact.”
Some WhatsApp messages seen by the Daily Sun indicates that the pilots may have been sacked for ‘indiscipline and promotion of anarchy’ after some of them asked why their salaries were coming late but their termination letters read that their employment was ended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A message allegedly sent from the airline and forwarded to the AON read “The following pilots were sacked today for indiscipline and promotion of anarchy within the airline. Please note and avoid them as per the MOU. Captain Jibrin Saidu, Captain Abdulkarim Abubakar, Captain Jika Keghtor, First Officer Shehu Jibrilla Umar, First Officer Ibrahim Isa Musa; First Officer Bello Garba, Isa Yamta Cabin Service Manager/Trainer, Account Officer Abuja Station, ticketer Abuja Station, Ticketer Abuja Station.”