By Adekunle Williams and Solomon Asowata
Lagos – Airlines operating at the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) Lagos, have been forced to make alternative arrangements to fly their passengers as aviation unions continued their picketing of the terminal on Thursday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that the airlines have moved their passenger boarding and processing to the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) operated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
NAN reports the unions had since Wednesday embarked on the protest over the alleged sack of 24 employees who indicated interest to unionise by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operators of the MMA2.
The unions are the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria(ATSSSAN) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).
Despite a subsisting court order issued by Justice I. N Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos restraining them from the action, the unions had continued to shutdown flights and business activities at the MMA2.
Airlines affected by the action included Arik Air, Medview Airline, Azman Air, Max Air, Dana Air and Aero Contractors,who operate flights from the terminal.
Mr Kingsley Ezenwa, Corporate Communications Manager, Dana Air, told NAN that the arrangement to move the airline’s passengers to GAT was reached on Wednesday after they were prevented from entering MMA2.
“We have made an alternative arrangement since yesterday and at the moment, the strike is still ongoing but we are hoping that everything will be resolved as soon as possible.
“First, we are apologising to our guests for any inconveniences caused by this development.
” It is so unfortunate that those who actually have no business with what is happening are the ones suffering in the battle between these two organisations.
“So, we are appealing that they resolve it as soon as possible because passengers come first.
Without the passengers, there is no airline, there is no industry and we need to start considering them before taking any decision,” he said.
He said the airlines operating in the MMA2 had incurred loses amounting to millions of Naira since the strike began, adding that they still had to pay FAAN to process their passengers at the GAT.
Also, Mr Adebanji Ola, spokesman for Arik Air, said the airline, which operates its Port Harcourt flights out of MMA2, had temporary moved it back to its hub at the GAT due to the strike.
“We informed our Port Harcourt passengers since yesterday to go to our counter at GAT for boarding, pending when the strike will be called off, ” he said.
Mr Frances Akinjole, General Secretary, ATSSSAN, told NAN that the unions would continue to picket the terminal until the sacked workers were reinstated and the BASL management recognises the unions in the sector.
Akinjole also confirmed that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and security agencies, including the Assistant Inspector General, Lagos Airport Police Command, Mr Aminchi Baraja, had tried to intervene on the issue.
“We will continue to barricade MMA2 until the management accede to our demands because what we are doing here is lawful, ” he said.
The spokesperson for BASL, Mr Steve Omolale, however flayed the unions for the continued disruption of business activities and flights at the terminal despite being aware of the interim court order.
Omolale said BASL would not join issues with the unions since the matter was already before a court.