The federal government has promised to restructure the embattled Aero Contractor airline, which on Wednesday announced that it had stopped schedule flights and suspended the services of its 1,100 workers, due to lack of funds.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika made this known when he addressed workers of the airline who occupied its headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, friday.
Sirika told the workers that the federal government would make sure that the problems plaguing the airline were solved, noting that it was the responsibility of government to create jobs and therefore would not allow any business concern to die under its watch.
The Minister, who identified some of the challenges facing the airline, said he would meet with Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the management of Aero Contractors and would get back to the workers on Monday.
“I landed from Riyadh to Lagos and before I left Riyadh I was informed by the people in charge in Aero that things were getting worse and that they had only one airplane operational at the moment and, since I have time before my connecting flight to Abuja, I decided to come and see Aero and probably discuss a few issues with the managers, and possibly see the staff. But unfortunately, I came here and saw that there is a protest going on, so I had to stop by, listened, discussed and came to an agreement.
“The primary purpose of government, especially this APC government is to help to promote, nurse, sustain, develop, keep businesses so that they can continue to provide services and employ our people. So, it is not the government of the APC that will kill jobs and close down shops; our intent is to promote jobs and promote businesses in Nigeria so that businesses will be growing,” the Minister said.
Sirika said the workers had the right to protest the loss of their jobs and assured them that the government would resolve the issues concerning the airline to bring it back on track.
“I think the protest is justifiable and I agree with the issues raised, but we will look into it and come up with a solution that will be mutually beneficial to all of us, the staff, the company and government itself. I have appealed to the staff and they have agreed that we will reconvene here on Monday and listen to each other and also develop a road map and agree on what to do to rejuvenate the airline, being a premier company in this country,” he said.
He also observed that although AMCON took over the airline because of the toxic loans it owed banks, but noted that the decision of the government agency was not out of place as its mission was to sustain the airline.
He added that now that it was under threat, but that the government would ensure that the airline was revived to continue to serve the public and keep its workers.
“I think what is going on now started sometimes ago. The reason why AMCON came to rescue Aero Contractors or any other business was due to the wisdom of the government of the past and we respect that wisdom and because AMCON is constitutionally established by the Act of Parliament to take this responsibility, but in doing this job we must look at the fundamentals.
“So, if there is a problem of this nature we must look at it and find out what is happening. We are aware of the problem of the legacy; we are aware of the management problems and we are aware of where the planes are and we are also aware of what has been going on with maintenance. So, we will try to resolve these problems,” Sirika said.