PLANS to save Nigeria’s oldest carrier, Aero Contractors are in the works as the Minister of Aviation, State; Senator Hadi Sirika has said he would write to the President, Muhammed Buhari to grant him permission to constitute an inter-Ministerial and inter-Agency Committee to resolve the lingering crisis in the airline.The inter ministerial and agency committee, according to Sirika will constitute : the Ministry of Aviation which is the host, Ministry of Justice, Finance, Labour and Productivity others are: Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), the Unions and workers of the embattled airlines.
Speaking with the Air Transport Senior Staff Services of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) on Saturday, Sirika stated that it would be a crime to let the Aero Contractors brand die but that there would be some sacrifice on the part of staff to ensure that the airline survives.
The Minister who was sad that his role, because of the peculiarity of the Aero Contractors case, was limited however said that so long as Aero was under his Ministry he would do everything in his power to ensure that the airline survives,
He pointed out that he would need the approve of the President Muhammadu Buhari to set up this committee and that the essence of the Inter –Ministerial Committee is not only to get to the root of the problems of the airline but also to know who is not sincere between the workers represented by the unions and AMCON .
He added that in the interim, he would appeal to the management to re-open Aero offices and allow workers to go back to work and that the unions should guarantee that while this is done , the workers on their part should not exhibit anything attitude that would give the management to feel unsafe while carrying out its work
Sirika said, “We have a very serious problem in our hands. It needs participation, understanding, sincerity. We have a fantastic brand in Aero. That brand is slowly being destroyed. That brand is about to be extinct and except we join hands and do something together we may not be able to resolve the issue. The issue is not about you and me but about our children, who will inherit this from us.
“Many people blame Aero but I don’t think so Aero’s problems did not start with AMCON coming in. It started way back. The world is watching what we are going to do, the President is concerned. So are the unions and the workers. How do we return the brand to the air and not kill it? How do we revive Aero, retain all the workers and ensure that it continues to operate? There is no how we would sit down as government and allow people to lose their jobs or sit down and kill businesses. There is no difference between Indomie and Aero Contractor. They are both brands. We have to collectively proffer solution to Aero’s problems.Let us change Aero’s story and do something that will make Aero fly”
Sirika advised the gathering that while trying to resolve the crisis in Aero , stakeholders should not be driven by external forces and that there should be honesty in whatever solution stakeholders are proffering, as according to him God and posterity will judge us if we fail to tackle this crisis honestly and sincerely.
He disclosed that AMCON has 12,000 companies under its watch with debts of about N5 trillion and that Aero , which is one of them owe some billions of Naira.