This is just as he said that disruption of operations, at this stage for the recovery, could be disastrous for the entire industry that is facing an existential crisis.
Akpan in a reaction to Nigerianflightdeck further advised critical stakeholders including the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Ministry of Aviation, Airline Operators of Nigeria, pilots and engineers association, Chairman House Committee on Aviation to hold an emergency arbitration meeting to resolve this and move on.
Akpan reacted based on the trend of the last week and how it has not only negatively impacted the aviation sub-sector but how it will put fear in the mind of the flying public and deter an industry yet to survive the effects of lockdown due to COVID-19 from recovery.
In the last week, both Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters have had to deal with labour matters cumulating in the sack of at least 170 pilots and engineers while some other airlines Azman, Max and a variety of others have has their fair share of reduction of salaries of pilots to the consternation of those affected.
He proposed,” NCAA, Ministry of Aviation, Airline Operators of Nigeria, Pilots and Engineers Association, Chairman House Committee on Aviation should hold an emergency arbitration meeting. The industry has to resolve this and move on. Unless there are other motives for these crises, it should be managed within 72hours. It is too much tension for managers of the system and investors.”
According to him, advice for regulators, employers, employees and the entire sector to resolve issues and chart a way forward during lockdown so as to come out strong after flight ban was lifted should have been explored.
He said, “I mentioned in my write up during the lockdown that unions and management should take time to sort out issues before the lockdown is lifted and operations resume. I said it would be like spilled milk on the floor to start operations and confront labour issues. Disruption of operations could be disastrous at this stage for the recovery.
“Now we leave the real threat to the existence of our industry and engage in fights we don’t have control of how it will end; even as it is obvious it is an all losers’ fight.
“Workers will stop work which means no operations which translates to nil income. As businesses do not earn income, the unpaid fixed costs keep piling. Companies cannot meet obligations, redundancy sets in, industry is in comatose.
“Fighting to return home with empty pocket, bloodied face, and torn dress attracts further scolding from parents. Wise fighters go home richer with sufficient money to pay medicals even if they lose.
“We said the ministry of aviation should use the lockdown period to conceptualize bailout and work out implementation program. As the lockdown is lifted they should be implementing it. They should avoid panicked implementation of bailout caused by shocks. It appears we are heading to panicked application of bailout.
“Some of the issues raised now were ongoing before covid-19 set in. So using them now to cripple the operations is below the belt punch. We could be having ongoing discussions so that companies do not become bankrupt. Bankruptcy in Nigeria is not the same as it is in America or Europe. The company closes and does not resurrect like the proverbial Phoenix,” he admonished.