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Aviation workers threaten govt over Abuja Airport closure

Nigeria suffers first loss over planned closure of Abuja Airport

The last may not have been heard of the mirage of voices against Nigeria’s planned closure of Abuja Airport for six weeks to enable repairs on its runway.

The latest group to oppose the move is the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) which has threatened withdrawing services at Kaduna Airport unless the Federal Government places its members’ welfare in its priority list.

In the past two weeks, foreign airlines, led by British Airways and Lufthansa, had also signaled their unwillingness to fly Abuja-bound passenger to Kaduna Airport, citing security issues.

During the weekend, Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL) announced that the company would lose more than N280 million if it shifted its staff and equipment from Abuja to Kaduna for the period of the airport closure.

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But NUATE’s General Secretary, Mr. Olayinka Abioye, presenting the position of the union on the issue, said nobody had been told how many of the workers would be deployed to Kaduna and their welfare package.

The union’s scribe accused all the aviation agencies under the Ministry of Transportation, of making plans for the movement of staff to Kaduna in secrecy.

“As I speak, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), are yet to settle arrears of allowances owed our members and upon that, nothing is said of what the temporary transfer will entail.

“Who and who will be involved and what will happen to those not accommodated in the arrangement.

“The actual date of the closure of the airport is not know, because the March 8 2017, which we learnt will be the date, remains hazy,” he said.

But the spokesman of FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, dismissed the fear being expressed by the union about the welfare of workers with a wave of the hand.

“More than adequate arrangements have been put in place to accommodate as many staff as will be involved.

“How possible will it be that staff will be sent on official assignment without their welfare being taken into consideration?”, he queried.

On the question of insecurity raised by the foreign airliners, she said there has not been any official report from them on that, adding that with the security plans on ground, such fears should be allayed.

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