National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, yesterday disrupted operations of Arik Air at the General Aviation Terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, over alleged N12.5billion indebtedness.
The union prevented the workers of the airline from gaining access to their duty posts, thereby disrupting domestic operations.
The general secretary of NUATE, Olayinka Abioye said the picketing against Arik Air was over its indebtedness to the Federal Airports
Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, in the sum of N12.5billion.
A statement by Arik Air spokesperson, Ola Banji, said, “The action by the workers’ union is connected with the long-standing and unsubstantiated claim by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria of spurious indebtedness of the airline to the agency, which is now before a Federal High Court in Lagos at the instance of FAAN.
“For several months, the management of Arik Air and FAAN have been meeting to reconcile payment accounts between the two institutions. The reconciliation process is still ongoing until the latest actions by the union.
“This is not the first time that FAAN workers’ union will be taking the laws into their hands by disrupting operations of Arik Air.
“The current situation is deeply out of control of Arik Air and the management of the airline has been compelled to suspend all domestic operations for today. This will remain in force until such a time the unfortunate situation is resolved.
“Arik Air sincerely apologises for the inconveniences the FAAN workers’ union action may have caused its esteemed passengers. We live to serve the needs of the people of the great nation Nigeria.
“We look forward to working collaboratively with FAAN and other aviation agencies to resolve the impasse and return to
our core purpose of providing essential world class services to the people of Nigeria,” he said.
Meanwhile, a different report on the disruption of the airline’s operations noted that the action by several workers’ unions in the aviation sector commenced as early as 6.30am, as the unionists displayed placards with inscriptions that derided the airline, such as: ‘Arik Pay Your 12.4bn Debt’, ‘FAAN can no longer pay salaries, pension, staff claims due to your debt.’ ‘Debtors pay all you owe FAAN now.” “Arik if you can’t pay don’t fly’, ‘Arik pay your debt 12.4bn is too much.’
Some of the passengers were seen demanding a refund from the airline while others were making alternative arrangements.
According to the Nigerian Travel Flight Deck, the union members said they resorted to blocking the airline from operating this morning after years of negotiating with the airline over the debt failed to yield any result.
When contacted FAAN’s spokesperson, Yakubu Datti, confirmed the picketing of the airline but said he could not provide additional information as the action was a union affair.

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