Transportation Updates

Nigeria’s Arik Air Sacks Pilots Following Strike Action

On December 21st, several Arik Air pilots were fired by management in response to strike action undertaken by the crew members. The pilots of the Nigerian airline had failed to serve a strike notice prior to their job action “in accordance with labor laws,” an act which the airline calls “spontaneous and callous.”

While it has operated widebody jets in the past, Arik Air has a mixed fleet of Boeing 737s, CRJ regional jets, and Dash 8 turboprops. Photo: Allen Watkin via Wikimedia Commons 

failure to follow procedure

According to Nigerian publication Vanguard, Arik Air management has dismissed an unspecified number of pilots due to spontaneous and unannounced strike action. A spokesperson for the airline went on the record with the following statement:

“The Pilots did not serve a strike notice in accordance with labour laws. They neither submitted any issue of dispute to the National Association of Airline Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), their umbrella union nor did they submit any statement of demands to the management of the company.” -Adebanji Ola, spokesperson for Arik Air via Vanguard

Ola adds that there were no ongoing discussions between the management and the Pilots on any unresolved labor issues and describes their actions as “callous,” “spontaneous,” and “treacherous.”

CRJ1000 Arik Air
The airline has a single Bombardier CRJ-1000 in its fleet. Photo: Paul Nelhams via Flickr 

Fully booked flights canceled

Questioning the poor timing of the surprise strike, the airline spokesperson also blasted the pilots for taking action during the Yuletide season, a “peak period for airlines all over the world.”

According to the Nigerian Tribune, the airline says that some fully booked flights had to be canceled despite “great efforts” being made to minimize the impact of the illegal strike action.

“Arik Air regrets the inconvenience caused by this action and is doing everything in its powers to minimize the impact and discomfort to its esteemed customers,” -Adebanji Ola, spokesperson for Arik Air via Nigerian Tribune

The airline operated a pair of two-class Airbus A330s between 2011 and 2017. Photo: Laurent Errera via Wikimedia Commons 

Financial troubles for Arik Air and its owner

Having gone into receivership in 2017, Arik Air has been sitting on a pile of unpaid debt. This led to a takeover of the airline by state-run firm Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

Since its takeover of Arik Air, things haven’t been easy for the carrier’s new owner. In late October, This Day Live reported that the organization was refusing to pay several aviation agencies millions of dollars in debt originally racked up by Arik Air. AMCON called the obligations unsecured and blamed respective aviation agencies for allowing debts to pile up without taking action to collect funds or ground the operations of the airline.

Bombardier is reportedly owed $47 million- the balance payment for the acquisition of two CRJ1000s and four Dash 8 Q400s. Another entity owed is Lufthansa Technik, claiming a bill of $2 million for maintenance and repair. This has led to the seizure of one of Arik’s aircraft: A 737-800 registered 5N-MJO. The narrowbody has been sitting at Kaunas Airport in Lithuania for about three years.

What do you think of Arik Air’s situation? Was it right for them to dismiss the pilots? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment.

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