The temporary relocation of airlines to the Lagos airport domestic terminal one popularly referred to as General Aviation Terminal (GAT) from the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) following the shut-down of the terminal by the unions early today led to chaos at the government-controlled terminal as airlines struggled for space at the already congested apron.
The situation underscored the dearth of infrastructure for seamless processing of passengers as many airlines were caught in the web of labour-related crisis between Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), the operators of the ultra-modern MMA2 and the Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN).
A truce was reached after the Airport Commandant, Deputy Commissioner of Police representing the Commissioner of Police, top officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Minister of Labour intervened in the matter.
The ATSSSAN had this morning barricaded the MMA2 over what it termed, “Unprovoked termination of the services of 34 union members”.
The ATSSSAN has however called off the blockade of the MMA2 terminal with airlines expected to go back to the MMA2 terminal as of today. The matter was said to have been resolved at 4.45 pm when the National President of ATSSSAN, Illitrus Ahmadu addressed the congress to call off the picketing of the terminal.
A visit to Lagos airport terminal one saw the huge influx of travellers into a small space of the check-in and airline counters. The situation led to a traffic snarl. The traffic was snarled up in both directions leading to flight delays with many drivers in the frantic move to ensure their passengers met their schedule.
Airlines that had enjoyed their flight operations from the MMA2 quickly moved to the old terminal, with logistical problems causing flight delays and other encumbrances that impacted their operations negatively.
Sensing that they were up against a resolute ATSSSAN that prevented flight services in the terminal, airlines like Ibom Air and Azman announced their relocation due to the old terminal in statements signed by the carriers announcing new decisions to operate from the GAT.
Notwithstanding their quick decision to move their operations to the at, the initial damage of the morning flights may have impacted the entire chain of their operations.
The management of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) operators of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2) declared the action of ATSSSAN illegal stating that there was no proper notice.
The terminal operators reacting to the sack of 37 workers, 34 of which are unionists and the shutdown of their facilities said it was their right to manage their business in the most prudent manner and should not be intimidated by external forces as is being done in this case.
After the breakdown of negotiations, the union as early as 2:30 am shut down the operations of the terminal stranding many travellers and causing untold turmoil in airline operations which led to some airlines relocating to the General Aviation Terminal ( GAT).
A statement by the Head, of Corporate Communications, Oluwatosin Onalaja on the issue read, “Contrary to laid down principles of industrial relations and in total violation of the laws of Nigeria, our Terminal was shut down at 2:30 AM on November 1, 2022, by Airport Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN). There was no proper notice of this damaging behaviour.
“The Union brought in members who are not employees of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) to prevent the employees of BASL from working. This is also an unlawful action. Our relationship is with union members that are our employees and not external members. This is clearly an illegal action and continues to set a bad precedent in Nigeria”.
“The alleged cause of this industrial action is our decision to lay off some of our staff who we consider unproductive. It is our inherent right to manage our business in the most prudent manner and we should not be intimidated by external forces as is being done in this case.
“The Unions are also claiming that we should apply the conditions of service which we signed in June 2021 retrospectively. Again, this is contrary to established rules of industrial relations and the laws of Nigeria.
“On being made aware of a court order issued by the National Industrial Court on October 31, 2022, the unions disregarded the order and continue to lock up our premises and disturb the operations of the Terminal in a clear violation of the court order. This is a recipe for anarchy.”We remain very law-abiding citizens and use this medium to apologise to all our clients and stakeholders for the totally unacceptable behaviour of the unions.”