NAAPE meets Ministers, kick over expatriate quota policy

  • 500 unemployed pilots, engineers take to menial jobs
The lack of employment for over 300 fresh pilots and an estimated 200 engineers has led many of them to take to menial jobs of cab driving and other jobs that are not related to their training of flying aeroplanes or maintaining aircraft.
It costs over $200, 000 to train as a pilot while it costs a little less to train as aircraft engineer.
The over 500 pilots and engineers who are currently out of job in Nigeria has led to a grave concerning, forcing their umbrella body,National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) to seek audience with Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika and Minister of Interior, Lt-Gen Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau (Rtd).

The problem is not helped by the frequent collapse of airlines. When airlines collapse, pilots and engineers are first casualties. Airlines like IRS, Air Nigeria, Chanchangi, ADC, Capital have all had issues without replacement.
In the last few months, airlines have cut down their staff strength occasioned by lull in the airline sector, while others have shrunk their workforce by over 40 per cent.
While Nigeria has so many unemployed pilots, the worldwide commercial aviation industry would need extra 255,000 pilots by 2027 to sustain its rapid growth according to a 10-year forecast published by training company CAE Inc.
More than half of the required pilots have not yet begun training, the report adds, storing up potential problems as the industry braces for an increase in passenger air traffic that is expected to double the size of the commercial air transport industry in the next 20 years.
National Vice President, NAAPE, Ahmed Roland Maikudi, an aircraft engineer said while briefing the media on the forth coming NAAPE general election said, “It is true that our pilots and engineers are out of job. There are some that have never been employed. Some of them have become cab drivers, pure water sellers and a lot of that”.
“Part of our programmes is to restore the dignity of our labour and that is for those who are working and those who are outside”.
He explained that the dearth of General Aviation (GA) was the beginning of unemployment in this country, stressing that it is “one of our cardinal agenda to see how we can work for the government and the agencies to bring back General aviation.
Maikudi stated that General Aviation has the capability to employ as many pilots and engineers as possible and also create allied jobs for a lot people.
General aviation is the term for all civil aviation operations other than scheduled air services and non-scheduled air transport operations for remuneration or hire. General aviation flights range from gliders and powered parachutes to corporate business jet flights. The majority of the world’s air traffic falls into this category, and most of the world’s airports serve general aviation exclusively.
General aviation covers a large range of activities, both commercial and non-commercial, including flying clubs, flight training, agricultural aviation, light aircraft manufacturing and maintenance.
Speaking on expatriate quota, the NAAPE National Vice-President decried a situation where foreigners are given jobs that can easily be done by Nigerian pilots and engineers saying the situation has done incalculable damage to the sector.
He called for the support of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and other relevant bodies towards implementing expatriate quote system to provide jobs for pilots and engineers. 
With 27 foreign airlines operating in Nigeria, he said he believes unemployment among aircraft pilots and engineers would have been minimal if expatriate quota system was implemented to the letter.  
The aviation industry is one industry that is dominated by foreigners with technical skills. Majority of pilots and engineers are expatriates. In contrast, shortage of indigenous manpower had been a major challenge for airline operators in the country. This has led to the overdependence to on expatriate staff.
Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) Capt. Noggie Megison recently told that he was worried about the growing numbers of jobless indigenous qualified pilots hence his decision to gather all indigenous unemployed pilots under the auspices of Nigerian Professional Pilots (NPP). 

He said “I set up this platform for young pilots who haven’t found jobs as common pool where employers can tap from. It also provides them the opportunity to come together and get acquainted with developments in the aviation sector so they don’t lose sight of changes in the sector rather than just sit at home and do nothing.”

Megison who has spent over three decades in the aviation sector noted that it is critical these young pilots are engaged.
 “I can’t employ all of them so I advised them to come together so they can collectively put forth their plight to relevant stakeholders in the industry. Going forward, we will be creating awareness about the young pilots’ predicaments. The awareness will also tell industry operators there is a pool of young pilots they can draw from rather than engaging expatriate pilots alone” he explained. 
Wole Shadare