Air Nigeria suspends local, regional & international operations; sacks workers

The management of Air Nigeria has announced the suspension of all its local, regional and international operations with effect from Monday, September 10, 2012.

A statement from the airline said the suspension was largely due to staff disloyalty and environmental tension, “which are not conducive for business in the aviation sector.”

The airline said it regretted any inconvenience the decision would cause its loyal passengers on all the routes and advised them to contact agents from whom they had purchased tickets for refunds.

The statement quoted the Chairman of the airline, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, as saying that it was difficult to continue further investment in the carrier with the high level of staff disloyalty and weak business environment.

“But we are strongly committed to ensuring that Air Nigeria survives,” he added.

Ibrahim said about 50 loyal members of staff from various departments of the airline had been selected with a mandate to recommence business within 12 months, while the others had been relieved of their employment effective from the last day of work on their various routes.

He thanked stakeholders for their “massive support” in the last two years of operation of Air Nigeria under the new management.

Ibrahim explained that the suspension of all the operations of Air Nigeria was not unusual.

He said, “Corporations are like individuals, who naturally will get sick, and the usual thing to do is to admit them to hospitals, either for corporate surgery or for treatment, as the case may be.

“During such period, it is not likely that they will work in full capacity, depending on the nature of the illness.”

The suspension of operations, he added, was not due to load factor, but largely to staff disloyalty and weak business environment.

Air Nigeria (formerly Virgin Nigeria), was established in 2004 when the Federal Government and Virgin Atlantic Airways signed a Memorandum of Mutual Understanding that gave birth to the airline. Air Nigeria, then trading as Virgin Nigeria Airways, started operating on June 28, 2005 with flights to London.

Air Nigeria had a few months ago suspended its local and regional flights after its pilots embarked on a nationwide strike.

The carrier later resumed operations after its aircraft were certified safe and secure by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

After operating for sometime, it announced that it was suspending its local and regional flights after the industry regulator, NCAA, accused it of being in financial distress.

The carrier’s international operation had, however, been operating until Tuesday’s decision to suspend all operations.