Market News

Airlines struggle to clear backlog after strike - PUNCH

JUNE 10, 2024

By Princess Etuk

Nigerian airlines are grappling with operational challenges as they work to accommodate passengers and clear the backlog caused by the strike embarked on by the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress, to press their demand for the implementation of a new national minimum wage.

Although the strike was suspended on Monday, it disrupted flight schedules and caused logistics issues for several airlines.

The Chief Operating Officer of Ibom Air, George Uriesi, told Sunday PUNCH about the difficulties in managing the situation without passing costs onto customers.

“You can’t increase your fares because you lost money due to the strike; you take your losses. And you can’t add aircraft just like that overnight. What you do is try to accommodate passengers over the next few days. That is what we have done.

 “Our fleet is already maximised in terms of flight schedule, so we tried to accommodate people. This continues to expand the losses because we don’t have seats to sell since we already have people that we are trying to accommodate who already bought tickets.

“So people can’t buy tickets, and we are losing more and more revenue as a result of that. Until you clear the backlog, there’s nothing to sell,” he explained.

United Nigeria Airlines is facing similar hurdles, as its Head of Corporate Communications, Achilleus Uchegbu, told Sunday PUNCH in a phone interview that the airline had to sacrifice for the greater good of Nigerians.

“A loss is a loss. Those are the sacrifices for the growth of the company and the good of Nigerians. The airlines are also involved in making sacrifices for the good of Nigerians.

“The losses have been incurred. We won’t increase fares because there was a strike. The system will not even allow us to do that because there was a strike which was announced, and a lot of people on their own adjusted their travels and didn’t have to wait for the airlines to do that. But everybody is back to normal operations now,” he stated.

Untamed Travels and Tours, Adediran Adewale, also stated that the industrial action affected the entire aviation industry.

“I had a passenger that was supposed to travel that Monday when the strike started, but I was able to get a seat for the passenger on Wednesday. I don’t know if other people are facing other challenges. Because the passenger could not travel on Monday, we had to change the travel date, and that attracted a fine.


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