Assessing High Labour Mobility in Aviation Sector

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Chinedu Eze

Aviation is said to be international because it follows uniform standard regulation, principles and documentations globally. So a pilot of Boeing B737 can work for any airline in the world and fly the same aircraft type. It is also the same with an engineer or cabin crew rated in the same aircraft type.

Many Nigerians who trained at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria as pilots fly for airlines in different parts of the world.

In fact, recently the Rector of the College, Captain Abdulsalam Mohammed, told THISDAY in Addis Ababa that whenever he travelled to different countries he often meets aviators who graduated from NCAT. He said he was welcomed to Addis Ababa during a recently held aviation conference there by some Nigerian pilots working for Ethiopian Airlines who graduated from the College, noting that he even trained two of them as co-pilots when he was at the defunct Virgin Nigeria Airways.

So, as the world marks Labour Day today amid the coronavirus lockdown, THISDAY spoke to a Nigerian, Magdalene Odigie who works with Emirates as a cabin crew.

Odigie has been working with Emirates for over a year now. She told THISDAY that she always aspired to become a cabin crew ever since she met an Emirates cabin crew on a flight.

According to her, working with Emirates has instilled in her skill sets both professionally and personally and she attributed it to her training and working in a diverse environment.

“I left Nigeria when I was 15 years old. I got the job while I was in the UK. I do come back to visit. I have two sisters in Nigeria. One lives in Lagos and the other in Abuja. So, I always come back to see my family.

“Being a cabin crew is something I have always dreamt of, especially when I first moved to the UK and I travelled on an airplane for the first time and I just looked at these people and I was wowed by just imagining what they did for a living. I also thought of the places they will have visited. So, when that opportunity came and I applied, I had to be patient and I am glad it was the best decision I ever made,” Odigie said.

Combining work with marriage and raising kids seem to be a challenge to aviators like female pilots and cabin crew. Some female pilots stay off work for relatively longer time to have kids.

But when asked if she intended to continue with her job when she got married, considering the demand of the job, Odigie said, “We still have a lot of crew who are married and they still fly. There is no interference in their personal life, in terms of difficulty, keeping a balance in the home.

“So, I have a lot of friends who are married to crew and some who are not married to crew and they have a lot of opportunities because your spouse can get the chance to travel all around the world with you and if you work together, it is even better because both of you can get to travel together most of the time. It is so exciting.”

She said Emirates as an airline is cosmopolitan, employing personnel from many countries and putting them to work together in “a mini world.”

“I think the unique selling point of Emirates is that it is such a cosmopolitan airline. Every day I work with someone from a different culture and it gives me the opportunity to learn about where they are from. For instance, today I might work with someone from Brazil and whenever I go to Brazil, I don’t feel strange because I have gotten to meet people from that culture. It is such a multi-national company,” she said.

THISDAY learnt that it is not easy for Nigerians and other Africans to secure jobs with international airlines and even a mega carrier such as Emirates, but Odigie said when she applied for the job, she never felt she would not get it because she was a Nigerian.

“I didn’t feel that way because I knew what I had to offer with the company, being a Nigerian as well as having that awareness because I felt when I was in the UK, I may probably be the only Nigerian applying for the job. For me, that was my selling point. To be honest, when I joined Emirates, I didn’t know how big of a multi-national company it was, so I was just going with the idea to try this out.

“To my surprise, they took me and I probably had all they were looking for. You have to be very patient with the whole interview process with Emirates. You have to also know that it is not just an opportunity for them to hire you but it is also you knowing what you can offer the company, just like any other job,” Odigie said.