Strike dis­rupts flights of big­gest Nige­rian air­line

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Work­ers un­paid for months by Nige­ria’s big­gest air­line went on strike yes­ter­day, halt­ing flights and strand­ing thou­sands of pas­sen­gers days be­fore Christmas. Op­er­a­tions of Arik Air, which flies more than 100 do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional flights daily, stopped be­fore dawn yes­ter­day, Ahmed Roland Maikudi, vice pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Association of Air­craft Pi­lots and En­gi­neers, told The As­so­ci­ated Press. He said pi­lots and other work­ers have not been paid for up to five months.

“We Say No To Slav­ery!” said plac­ards waved by chant­ing work­ers who pick­eted the air­line’s pad­locked head­quar­ters at Mur­tala Muhammed In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Lagos, Nige­ria’s com­mer­cial hub. Strik­ers blocked the en­try with ve­hi­cles.

Of­fi­cials of Arik Air could not im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment. The air­line has been strug­gling for weeks with de­layed and can­celled flights usu­ally blamed on avi­a­tion fuel short­ages. A Dec. 17 state­ment says the air­line has been able to pro­cure only about 200,000 of the 500,000 liters of fuel needed daily.

Two other Nige­rian air­lines sus­pended op­er­a­tions weeks ago, and two in­ter­na­tional car­ri­ers re­cently stopped fly­ing to the coun­try. Africa’s largest econ­omy, and the con­ti­nent’s sec­ond-big­gest oil pro­ducer, is strug­gling in a re­ces­sion caused by low oil prices and a mas­sive short­age of for­eign cur­rency.

Other in­ter­na­tional air­lines have taken to re­fu­el­ing in neigh­bor­ing Ghana, los­ing Nige­ria its spot as the lead­ing air­line hub in West Africa. — AP

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