The operations of airlines at the General Aviation Terminal of the Murtala Muhammad Airport, Lagos were interrupted for over four hours on Friday by members of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria.
According to reports, the unions’ leaders got to the airport early in the morning and ordered airline employees to stop working.
The unions’ officials were said to have arrived the terminal operated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria at 5:40am, and after some time, they left and came back a few minutes later with over 500 members.
Eyewitnesses said many passengers were divided on whether to support the airlines or the unions.
It was gathered that those operating at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2, however, operated normally.
Aviation unions such as the National Union of Air Transport Employees; Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals; the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers; and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria had on Thursday issued a statement that they would not join the nationwide strike called by the NLC until Tuesday, October 2.
The Corporate Communications Manager, Air Peace, Chris Iwarah, told our correspondent that the ripple effect of the disruption could last for months.
He said the airline’s flights to Owerri, Enugu and Benin did not operate for the day, while many passengers on the other routes refused to fly due to the delays.
Iwarah stated, “It is sad and unfortunate. With what the unions have done, all our operations were affected. The entire chain was affected and we lost a lot of money.
“It is their right to protest, but they can’t compel anyone to join them. We are not against the unions’ strike but they can carry out their industrial action without using it to affect the private businesses of others.”
He called on the government to help stop the impunity of labour unions, especially in the aviation industry, because of safety reasons.
The Media and Communications Manager, Arik Air, Adebanji Ola, also confirmed the disruption of its operations.
He said flight operations, however, resumed later in the day.