Except there is speedy government intervention and efforts from other stakeholders in the Nigeria’s aviation sector, Aero Contractors Airlines, one of the oldest domestic carriers in the country may be losing about N16 billion between September when the airline suspended its flight operations and December this year.
Aero had on September 1, suspended its scheduled services, which was part of the strategic business realignment to reposition the airline and return it to the part of profitability.
Before Aero stopped flight operations, an impeccable industry source told LEADERSHIP that the airline was making up the sum of N4 billion in a month with seven functional aircraft. According to the source, it is estimated that if Aero had been functional since September 1, the local carrier may have been able to generate about N16 billion over a period of four months that is from September 1 till the end of December, 2016.
Commenting on the suspension of schedule flight operations by Aero Contractor, president, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Engr Isaac Balami said that it was obvious that Aero must have lost money running into billions but that the matter does not end there.
According to Balami, government on their own part is equally losing because the tax which should accrued to the government’s treasury will no longer be there.
Advising the government to intervene in the matter, the aircraft engineer said, “When Aero Contractors were flying with 7 aircraft, they were making money. You can imagine how much they must have lost within these few months. Let me tell you, the government is also affected because the money they get through tax will no longer come again. What about salaries, fuel and the families of over 1, 500 workers who are not working again”.
Balami therefore advised the government to tackle the issue seriously so as to return the airline to profitability just as he noted that passengers who patronise the airline have also been affected, particularly on their route networks.
Although, the federal government had assured the workers of Aero Contractors that none of them would lose their jobs , the workers, haven stayed at home for over one month are beginning to be agitated.
Recently, hundreds of employees of the Aero staged a peaceful protest over the closure of the airline by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON).
The protest was organised by the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and National Union of Air Transport Employees.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, the Secretary, ATSSSAN, Mrs Francis Akinjole, condemned the “illegal closure’’ of Aero Contractors by AMCON, adding that they would resist the plan to liquidate the company.
Akinjole accused AMCON of running the airline aground after it took over majority shares in 2011 by approving bogus salaries and allowances for its representatives.
She said, “Before AMCON took over, the airline had 11 operational aeroplane. They claim to have injected N12 billion in the company, but today, the airline has only three aircraft.
“This is calling on all well-meaning Nigerians to please come to the aid of Aero at this crucial time.