The staff strength of domestic carriers shrunk from 5,000 to less than 2,500 due to failure of airlines, Daily Trust has gathered.
Aero Contractors, the oldest airline in the country, recently sacked 60 per cent of its workforce (about 1,000 workers) thus contributing to the drop in the industry strength.
Arik Air, the largest employer of labour in the industry, is struggling with just four aircraft from about 30 with many of the workers being rendered redundant. Checks by Daily Trust showed that all domestic airlines put together have less than 40 aircraft.
The President, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Comrade Isaac Balami, said this year held a lot of promises and hope for the dozens of unemployed pilots and engineers with new airlines coming in.
However, he urged the carriers to ensure the institutionalisation of sound corporate governance to last long. He also called on the government to come to the aid of domestic carriers, saying that airline business appeared attractive from outside but the carriers faced humongous challenges which threatened their existence.
For instance, he said, the price of aviation fuel known as Jet A1 selling for N250 and above per litre was not sustainable.
Balami said, “The truth of the matter is that it is a very good thing that new airlines are coming in but the government should provide the enabling environment not just for the new ones coming but the existing ones to be able to sustain their operations.’’
Another expert and former pilot with the defunct Nigerian Airways, Capt. Ibrahim Yinusa Kazaure, said it was one thing for the new airlines to acquire AOC, and another thing for them to have the resources to operate because the airline business “is very complex and highly capital intensive.”
He said if the owners of the coming airlines were genuine investors, they would need to entrench prudent management system to avoid financial excesses. President of Aviation Roundtable, Elder Gabriel Olowo, said government should address the foreign exchange challenges inhibiting the growth and sustenance of airlines.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s aviation sector is expected to record a boom this year with 18 firms seeking to begin flight operations into the country.
However, experts are calling for caution so that the yet to be unveiled carriers do not falter like their predecessors.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Director General, Capt. Mukhtar Usman, recently disclosed that 18 firms are at different stages of securing the all-important Air Operator Certificate (AOC) which empowers them to commence flight operations.