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More than a month after the management of the airline grounded its operations because of lack of airplanes; workers of Aero Contractors today staged a peaceful protest over the continued closure of the airline by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON).
The protest was organised by the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE).
The workers, who began the protest at about 8.45a.m, marched round the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, carrying various placards expressing their grievances.
The placards had inscriptions such as, “Don’t Allow Aero to Die“, “Save Aero from AMCON“ and “Aero must not go the way of Nigeria Airways“, among others.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Mrs Frances Akinjole, the Secretary, ATSSSAN, condemned the “illegal closure’’ of Aero Contractors by AMCON, adding that they would resist the plan to liquidate the company.
Akinjole accused AMCON of running the airline aground after it took over majority shares in 2011 by approving bogus salaries and allowances for its representatives.
“Before AMCON took over, the airline had 11 operational aeroplane. They claim to have injected N12 billion in the company, but today, the airline has only three aircraft.
“This is calling on all well-meaning Nigerians to please come to the aid of Aero at this crucial time in her life.
“Aero should not be allowed to die from the strangle of AMCON,’’ she said.
She said that the threat to liquidate the airline would render its over 800 staff unemployed which would have negative effects on the already sick Nigerian economy.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika said he would write to the President, Muhammed Buhari to grant him permission to constitute an inter-ministerial and interagency Committee to resolve the lingering crisis in the airline.
Speaking with the Air Transport Senior Staff Services of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Sirika stated that it would be a crime to let the Aero Contractors brand die, but that there would be some sacrifice on the part of staff to ensure that the airline survives.
The minister who was sad that his role, because of the peculiarity of the Aero Contractors case, was limited, however, said that so long as Aero was under his Ministry he would do everything in his power to ensure that the airline survives.
He pointed out that he would need the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to set up this committee and that the essence of the inter –ministerial committee is not only to get to the root of the problems of the airline, but also to know who is not sincere between the workers represented by the unions and AMCON .