Passengers stranded over controllers, NAMA face-off, flights resume


  • Unions protest, lament anti-labour law


Aviation workers made good their threat as they shut the Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano over a dispute between the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigerian Airspace. Many were left stranded in and out of the airport as they could not immediately fly out of the aerodrome.

Flight operations however resumed a few hours later after a dispute between the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).

The air traffic controllers under the aegis of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) had on Sunday threatened to shut down air navigation facilities in the Kano zone over the disconnection of electricity supply by the airport manager in Kano.

Nigerian airlines

Flights scheduled to leave Kano on Monday morning were disrupted as the controllers suspended their operations which affected the landing and taking-off of flights.

An airport official said some airlines’ flights scheduled for Abuja and Lagos were not allowed to leave, and that passengers after boarding the flights were later told to disembark as the Air Traffic Controllers shut down their operations.

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It was gathered that the dispute between the two bodies of the airport started after the Nigerian controllers shut down air navigation services for flights in and out of the Airport, over power supply to NAMA facilities and staff accommodations that were disconnected.

It was gathered that on Friday that FAAN disconnected the power supply to all NAMA staff accommodations due to non-payment of electricity bills.

After some hours, the issue was temporarily resolved as flights took off from the airport.

Meanwhile, aviation unions took to the streets at the Lagos airport to protest what they described as anti-labour law.

They frowned at some provisions of the signed Civil Aviation Act signed by President Muhammadu Buhari which gives the Minister of Aviation express power to prohibit trade union activities.

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President Muhammadu Buhari had last week signed the new Civil Aviation Act into law out of the six aviation Bills recently passed by the National Assembly.

But the unions said they have discovered that the new Act assented to by the President contained provisions classifying aviation agencies as rendering essential services while empowering the minister to prohibit industrial action by unions.

The unions, including the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP), National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) at a joint conference at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos gave a 14-day ultimatum from Monday to correct the anomaly or face a total shut down of the sector.

General Secretary of NUATE, Ocheme Aba, who briefed newsmen explained that the issue of proscribing union activities did not come up during the public hearings organised by the Joint National Assembly committees on Aviation before the Bills were passed.

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Aircraft positioning for take-off

According to him, the new civil aviation Act transmitted to the President for assent stated that “all services which facilitate and maintain smooth, orderly and safe take-off, flight and landing of aircraft, embarkation and disembarkation and evacuation of passengers and cargo respectively in all aerodromes in Nigeria are hereby designated as essential services pursuant to the provisions of Section 11 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered).

Also, the Act was said to have provided that there shall be no strikes, lock-outs, pickets, or blockades.

Wole Shadare