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Passengers stranded as aviation unions shut Lagos airport

Repatriated Nigerian residents from the United Kingdom on arrival at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Ikeja, Lagos yesterday

Hundreds of Passengers travelling via the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2), Lagos are currently stranded as members of various aviation unions have blocked access to the terminal.

The unions had threatened a showdown with the management of the private terminal, the Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) over the sack of 37 staff members with 34 of them who are members of the union.

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The protesting Union, the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) had faulted the decision of BASL to sack their members last Friday with “ordinary e-mails” sent to their different boxes without regard to the rule of law after they were first sent on compulsory leave of absence for 10 days.

Vice President and Deputy General Secretary of ATSSSAN, Comrades Emmanuel Jaja and Frances Akinjole, had told aviation journalists at its secretariat at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos on Monday that most of those sacked had put in at least a decade into the job with the company.

Akinjole insisted that the action was to witch-hunt its members working with the terminal operator, stressing that its branch chairman, branch secretary, branch treasurer and branch women leader were all affected by the sack.

But ATSSSAN joined by other unions in solidarity has made good its threat by blocking access to the terminal and preventing passengers from checking in for their flights.

A manager of one of the airlines at MMA2 who confirmed the development said some of the operators are trying to process passengers from the other side of the terminal.

One of the airlines operating at the terminal, Ibom Air, said the action would affect its operation.

The airline said, “This is to bring to the attention of our esteemed passengers and the public, that our operating terminal out of Lagos, the Murtala Mohamed Airport 2, operated by Bicourtney Aviation Services Limited has been completely closed off to workers and passengers alike by the labour Union, very early this morning.

“Efforts are currently being made to resolve the situation; however, please note that this action will greatly impact our flights scheduled in and out of Lagos today.

“We greatly regret the impact of this unexpected action on your day’s plans as we urge you to kindly stay close to all our communication channels for subsequent updates.”

Aviation analyst, Group Capt. John Ojikutu, rtd, condemned the unions’ action, saying, “I am just hearing from a colleague at the MM2 Terminal that the unions have blocked the entrances to the terminal refusing passengers from getting access into the terminal to catch their flights operated by airlines and not by the terminal operator.

“It is high time the lawlessness of the unions are curtailed by the responsible authorities especially the NCAA.”