Pilots in the operations of Air Peace airlines and their management have had a spat over pay cuts that is not unconnected with the dwindling fortunes of local airlines.
The Guardian learnt the pilots recently protested against a cut in salary and downed tools, forcing the management to lash out at the “insensitive” workers, amid the chairman’s threat to shut down operations.
Recall that local airlines three weeks ago resumed commercial flight operations, although with low patronage and an attendant load factor of about 30 per cent.
The development has caused airlines to struggle, unable to recoup the cost of operations among other obligations, which have forced some of the airlines, including Air Peace, to review the salary of pilots and crew.
Apparently displeased by the pilots’ reaction, the Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, in a memo, expressed disappointment.
Onyema noted that the prevailing “unfavourable” circumstance warranted the pay cut, which would be effective for 90 days in the first instance.
He said the management would return to status quo once passenger traffic improves. Yet, “the pilot still chose not to fly. Thus, embarrassing the company and also portrayed the airline in an unpleasant image in the estimation of its esteemed passengers.”
Onyema said: “It is very unfortunate that some of you chose to embarrass this airline at this point in time through various flimsy excuses such as refusal to come to work on very spurious reasons.”
He alleged that for the better part of 2019, the majority of the pilots flew an average of 25 hours a month, but the company did not withhold their salaries, allowances and all were paid promptly.
“Now, the pandemic has set in with debilitating effects on every airline worldwide, Air Peace not left out, and the airline pleaded for slight readjustment in salary, which will not be permanent but will be reversed as soon as passenger traffic rebounds, yet the esteemed passengers were sadly being made to bear the brunt.
“Presently, the airline has not achieved 40 per cent of its load factor since the nation’s airspace was opened and travel resumed. So, where is the money going to come from? Have we done things others are not doing or even worse? Is it the way to reward the airline that has changed your fortunes in your chosen career?
“I am very sorry, with all this company has done for pilots especially; we will not accept blackmail even if it means closing down the airline today. Yes, I swear on it,” the memo read in part.