Dana airways plane
By Chinedu Eze
After failing to resume operations in spite of obtaining an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dana Air on December 24, directed its workers to embark on compulsory leave.
The airline whose flight J9 992 was involved in a tragic crash on June 3, in Lagos, killing 163 people, has not operated since the accident, as its licence was withdrawn.
But, the airline later recalled its crew, ground staff and others after obtaining the AOC, ostensibly with the believe that it would resume operations this month.
However, the expectation was dashed last week when the House Committee on Aviation recommended that its operations should still be suspended and that the Director General of NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren, should be sacked for the alleged roles played that led to the accident.
Spokesman of the airline, Mr. Tony Usidamen, said Wednesday that since the airline started operation in 2008, every worker was kept busy during December because the airline operated its highest number of flights.
He noted that since the airline was not going to be operating after it had obtained AOC from NCAA, there was no wisdom in keeping the workers, which was why the management asked the members of staff to go and celebrate the Yuletide, although they would be paid for the period they did not work.
Without allowing the airline to operate, the fate of about 2,000 workers under its employ is precariously hanging in the balance as they may not be reabsorbed in the coming months.
Some of the workers said they were not issued any letter directing them to proceed on leave; but rather, the head of their departments read out a note giving them the directive from the management to proceed on leave.
When THISDAY contacted Demuren, who was on pilgrimage in Israel, he said asking the workers to go on indefinite leave was understandable because the airline has not operated for the past six months.
“What do you want them to do? They have not operated for the past six month; so where will they get the money to pay the workers?” he asked.
THISDAY contacted the Special Adviser (Media) to the Minister of Aviation, after the House of Representatives presented its recommendation, he said it behoved on the Presidency to carry out the recommendations of the legislators, adding that the issue was beyond the minister.
Few months ago, about 800 aviation staff lost their jobs when Air Nigeria closed operations and indications show that about 2,000 workers of Dana Air will lose their jobs, except the airline was given a go ahead to resume operations.
Also in 2010, about 800 people lost their jobs when Afrijet Airline went under; so within the last three years the aviation industry has lost about 3,000 workers and this may increase to 5,000 in the coming months if Dana Air is finally stopped from operating.