Passengers scramble for refund as NAAPE pickets Dana Air

Dana Air MD, Jacky Hathiramani

Air passengers besieged the counters of Dana Air to collect their refund as the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) disrupted the airline’s operations for alleged refusal to allow its (Dana Air’s) pilots and engineers to join aviation union.

As early as 6am yesterday, NAAPE members who chanted solidarity songs and displayed placards with messages like “No condition of service for staff at Dana Air”, “Dana Indian must obey Nigerian laws” and “Dana Air, second Slavery in Nigeria,” among others barricaded the airline’s counters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 thereby stopping the carrier’s 06.40am, 07.02am and 07.20am flights to Abuja, Port Harcourt and Owerri respectively.

However, passengers who had earlier bought tickets and reported early for the flights were allowed to claim their refund.

The unionists who chanted solidarity songs also disrupted flight the flight to Uyo.

The picketing created a long queue for the other airlines as passengers were seen struggling to buy their tickets to get to their destinations.

A Dana Air source, who spoke to on the condition of anonymity said the issue was being resolved adding that the airline’s operations would begin soon.

Speaking in an interview, NAAPE’s general secretary, Mr. Abba Ocheme attributed the union’s action to the refusal of the management of Dana Air to allow the pilots and engineers in its employ unionise.

He also alleged the pilots and engineers were not given condition of service saying “the airline pays them what it deems fit.”

“This unacceptable to NAAPE; what the airline is practising is slavery,” she said.

He said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had earlier mediated in the meetings between NAAPE and the airline and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by both organizations.

Ocheme therefore wondered why the airline renege on the agreement reached with the union in the presence of NCAA.

“The airline breached the agreement it signed with the union.

Meanwhile, policemen from the Airport Police command where seen at the terminal protecting both the union and the airline.

Meanwhile too, Dana’s spokesman, Mr. Kingsley Ezenwa apologised to its clients for the “slight delays experienced…as a result of the illegal disruption of our flight operations by the NAAPE.”

In a press statement issued late Tuesday, the airline said: “We wish to also state clearly that reason given by the union for their illegal action this morning is entirely false, baseless and malicious as there is no such thing as ‘casualization’ of staff at Dana Air.

“We have also advised the union times without number that we are a law abiding, and liberal corporate citizen and are not against their activities or the activities of our staff members in these unions.  We also cannot foist unionism on our staff. We understand what freedom of association means, and we expect the unions to know better.

“The activities of these unions have only led airlines to the precipice and it is appalling what they seek to achieve by illegally disrupting our flights.

“We will continue to engage the unions in the most civil manner and hope that the unions learn to be constructive in their activities by supporting the efforts of the federal government and our sincere efforts towards the betterment of the aviation industry.

“We once again apologize to our guests and regret the inconvenience that this ill-informed path that the unions have decided to tow, has caused our teeming guests and we wish to assure them of our willingness to not only to reschedule their flights for free, but to compensate them as a result of the activities of these antagonists of the sector.”




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