Nigeria’s domestic carrier, Aero Contractors has sacked 60 per cent of its workforce based on what the management of the airline described as “huge and unrealistic personnel cost as well as other operational challenges worsened by lack of enough aircraft to keep all the workers meaningfully engaged.”
The workers according to a statement from the airline have been issued notification letters of redundancy as a business decision that will ensure Aero’s survival.
The redundancy letter which was made available to the media yesterday, reads in part:
Following the operational challenges of Aero culminating in loss of business opportunities that adversely affected company finances vis-à-vis operations, we are constrained to place you under redundancy pending a possible future review.
This decision was communicated to the unions where their understanding was solicited in view of prevailing operational difficulties, whilst Aero appreciates your contribution to the company and continues to regard you as worthy ambassadors, we solicit your understanding as we struggle to stabilize operations and rebuild the company.
The current situation where over a thousand people are basically not engaged due to lack of serviceable aircraft is not sustainable for the airline. The huge monthly salary associated with a bloated workforce will eventually kill the airline, which is not the intention of the current government. Aero Contractors currently has aircraft-to-employee ratio of 1:500, which analysts believe is perhaps the worst in the history of global airline industry.
Government’s intervention in Aero was to save it from total collapse therefore, all steps such as this (issuance of redundancy letters) to ensure its survival must be put into consideration to save the airline.
This decision, will immediately reduce the whooping operational cost, which has been stifling Aero; enable the management bring in more aircraft through savings from overheads, pay for C-checks as well as enable Aero have a more manageable and committed workforce in line with international best practices of 50 to 60 personnel to one aircraft unlike what obtains in Aero at the moment.
The statement however added that those in Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) and other essential staff in critical departments will not be affected by the notification just as the airline’s Chief Executive Officer, Captain Ado Sanusi and his management team have also ensured that the affected workers will be able to access their full gratuity as well as a part of their pension just to immediately cushion the effect of the development.
According to the Aero management, the affected staff also stand a chance of being recalled as soon as Aero increases the number of aircraft in its fleet in the near future.
“Before taking this critical but necessary business decision, the management of Aero consistently explained the inevitability of redundancy notification to both the workers and the unions because there was no way Aero could carry on with its over-bloated personnel and huge overhead cost.”
Captain Ado Sanusi before his appointment as the CEO of Aero was the deputy managing director at the troubled Arik Air whose mandate is to reposition the airline by returning it to full operational capacity, offering reliable, safe and secure operations, which the airline had been known for over the years.