The second domestic terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos (also known as MMA2) yesterday remained shut down for airlines and other business operators for the second day running, following its picketing by protesting aviation unions.
The picketing of the airport was carried out by the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) protesting the sack of some workers by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), the operators of the MMA2 terminal for opting to be members of unions of the industry as opposed to the company’s non-union participation by staff.
Sources at the MMA2 airport told Daily Sun that the shut down might have led to over N500million loss by the five major airlines that fly through the airport as well as travel agents, and operators of such businesses as canteens, bookshops, bureau de change, caterers, taxi drivers, among others.
Spokesman for Dana Air, Mr. Kingsley Ezenwa, who confirmed this, told Daily Sun that the local airline industry suffered more from the strike that crippled flight operations out of the MMA2 for the past two days.
“For now, Dana Air has lost over N100 million to the ongoing industrial action. And losing such money, in an industry where airlines are still grappling with a myriad of challenges, is unacceptable and disappointing to say the least,” Ezenwa said..
He, however, disclosed that the local airlines that hitherto operated from the MMA2 have moved their operations to the smaller General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, popularly called MMA1.
Said Ezenwa: “We made alternative arrangement and moved our operations temporarily to the GAT but our worst fear, however is, if the terminal will be able to process such huge number of passengers when there is a coincidence in flight schedule with over eight airlines now having to operate from this terminal at this moment following the shut down of the MMA2 terminal.
“We do not know how the situation will be in the coming days and we might have no other option than to downsize if the action stretches for too long,” Ezenwa added.
Secretary of NUATE, Mr. Olayinka Abioye told journalists that the AIG in charge of the Lagos Airport Command has called for meeting with all concerned parties to the crisis in a bid to resolving the matter.
“However, the only solution is the recall of the sacked staff and unionisation of willing workers,” Abioye said.
“BASL who badly needed external intervention was the one who brought dogs, bouncers and low loader trailers to block its own terminal, technically assisting the unions picket the terminal further. There shall be no retreat or surrender until our condition is met,” Abioye added.