8th October 2023
The leadership of the National Union of Transport Employees (NUATE), Aero Contractors branch, has debunked claims by its former General Secretary, alleging that the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) mismanaged the airline.
The workers, while responding to an open letter by its former General Secretary, Olayinka Abioye, to the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, called on the Minister, fellow Nigerians and all concerned to disregard the memo, as they refuted and dissociated themselves from Abioye’s allegations.
Abioye, in an open letter to the Minister dated September 26, 2023, alleged the lack of transparency by AMCON, asking the government to open the books of the troubled carrier.
The union, in a statement signed by the Branch Chairman of NUATE, Frank Omoakha, and Secretary, Kayode Davies, recalled that the operations of Aero Contractors was shut down by the erstwhile Management on July 20, 2022, due to operational challenges and the inability to pay staff salaries which posed serious safety issues at the time.
“With the aim to resuscitate the distressed airline, AMCON changed the management of the airline and Capt. Ado Sanusi was re-appointed as the Chief Executive officer on October 1st, 2022, after his initial exit in December 2020 following the successful turnaround of the airline after a four-month shutdown in 2016 when the company was placed under Receivership.”
The union noted that since the re-commencement of flight operations on December 5, 2022, the airline has been up to date.
They, however, mentioned that contrary to claims in the open letter on the redundant staff from 2017, the redundancy exercise was amicably agreed between the relevant unions and Aero’s Management, and to date 98 per cent of the redundant staff have been paid their redundancy benefit.
The statement noted that the issue of promotion of staff has been addressed by the new management during a town hall meeting where they urged the staff not to be demoralised due to outstanding salaries but to try to put in their best to ensure the operations of the airline is stabilises and assured them that they would settle arrears and overdue promotions in batches, as the airline’s operations improve.
On the allegations of expending N60 million on an overseas trip, they said that at no point did the management expend such money on overseas trips as all travels were done in line with company policy with appropriate approvals obtained.
Addressing the issue of the alleged sale of the property in Ikeja, GRA, the union noted that No. 3, Eso Close, GRA Ikeja, Lagos, has never been owned by Aero Contractors but it is a rented property, which belongs to the Shaw family and the owners recently informed Aero of the sale of the property and requested Aero Contractors to vacate the property to enable handover to the new owners.
The union also noted that the investors for Hajj operation entered a commercial agreement with Aero and they have kept to the terms of the commercial agreement, saying it is chagrining that the Ex–General Secretary was referring to a subject to which he is not privy.
The union mentioned that the sale of shares was a mere rumour as they were yet to be informed of such.
They, however, stated that they have strong faith in the current management under the leadership of Capt. Ado Sanusi, as they uphold sincerity, transparency and integrity in the affairs of the company and appealed to the Minister of Aviation to kindly support the Management of Aero Contractors to ensure the survival of Nigeria’s oldest airline.