Airlines move operations to GAT as MMA2 shutdown persists - BUSINESSDAY
by Ifeoma Okeke
Airlines are now taking off and landing from the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), the Lagos terminal operated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) following the shut down of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2) since yesterday.
MMA2 has been shut down since yesterday by aviation unions over the disengagement of some workers of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operators of MMA2.
The situation has become worse now as the unions used trucks to barricade the entrance of the terminal today, making it impossible for anyone to gain access into the terminal.
The unions involved in the activity were 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).
Airlines affected by the action include Arik Air, Medview Airline, Azman Air, Max Air, Dana Air and Aero Contractors, which operate flights from the terminal.
Frances Akinjole, General Secretary, ATSSSAN, said that the unions were compelled to carry out the action following the refusal of the BASL management to accede to their demands.
Akinjole who claimed the protest was a successful one yesterday, insisted that the picketing would continue this morning if BASL refuses to meet the unions’ demand.T
The union leader however warned that any attempt to truncate the industrial action by management of BASL without meeting their demands would be met with stiff resistance.
He said that to forestall any possible act of sabotage from BASL,Trade Union Congress (TUC), the parent body ATSSSAN is affiliated to, has started mobilising to join in the picketing today.
“Our activities yesterday at MMA2 was very successful. We made sure that no flight departed or arrived at the terminal. The action continues today Thursday, pending when they meet our demands on the workers laid off because of their alleged involvement in unionisation of BASL workers.
“Our parent body, TUC has mobilised to join us at the picketing tomorrow,” the union leader said.
Akinjole said, “This issue started since May when these workers were laid off for indicating interest to belong to unions.
“We met the management asking them to reinstate these workers and recognise their rights to join unions but they refused.
“The regulator of the industry, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as well as aviation security agencies have intervened in series of meetings, but BASL management has refused to do the needful to avert this crisis.”
However, Steve Omolale, Bi-Courtney’s spokesman in a statement said the company had obtained a court order from the Federal High Court, Lagos, restraining the unions from shutting down Nigeria’s only privately-owned terminal.
The unions had given notice that they would disrupt operations at MMA2 from today over the disengagement of some workers of BASL who they said were disengaged for their alleged attempt to join them, but who the company said had attained retirement age or were found not to be diligent in their duties.
But a statement issued by BASL yesterday said, “we will like to bring it to the attention of the entire public that the Federal High Court in Lagos in suit number FHC/L/CS/16412/18 has granted an order restraining the unions from carrying out their threats of disrupting the activities of the terminal. Pursuit to this order, members if the unions found in the premises of MMA2 would be liable to trespass. We reserve our right under the law of Nigeria to deal with such person as a trespasser”.