By Chinedu Eze
Bristow Helicopters has announced the sack of over 100 pilots and engineers in its employ.
The aviation company also said it had engaged with the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) to negotiate a fair and equitable redundancy compensation for those affected.
Industry sources said this might be a reaction to the picketing and grounding of the company’s operations on Monday by the union over alleged discrimination against Nigerian pilots and engineers.
Bristow in a statement signed by its management said it based its decision on the severe impact of COVID-19, adding that its business has been affected adversely and would use the period to now restructure all aspects of its business model.
The statement said, “The spread of the Covid-19 virus has severely impacted all sectors in the aviation industry, including our market, which primarily serves the Nigerian oil and gas sector. In addition, the ongoing downturn in the global oil and gas market continues to influence and determine the demand for our services.
“The combined effects of these ‘arisings’ have resulted in very significant reductions to our business particularly a reduction in the number of contracted aircraft in Nigeria. As a result, the company must now restructure all aspects of its business model (both rotary & fixed wing), including an extensive review of its operations and we continue to drive efficiencies, but with zero compromise to safety and our core values.
“One of these measures includes the right sizing of the business to ensure that the company has the optimal level of personnel to continue the safe delivery of its services to its clients, whilst allowing the appropriate capacity for future growth. Accordingly, and with much regret, the company has taken the very difficult decision to release over 100 pilots and engineers (both nationals and expatriates) over the next couple of weeks.”
The company which had operated in Nigeria for over 40 years said that it would comply with the labour laws of disengagement for those whose jobs were relieved.
“In compliance with the relevant labour and local content laws and also best practices; the company has engaged the leadership of NAAPE to negotiate a fair and equitable redundancy compensation for the affected individuals.
“In compliance with the terms of employment, the affected individuals will be paid three months’ salary (excluding applicable deductions) following their exit from the company. The redundancy packages will be paid to them as soon as an agreement has been reached with NAAPE.
“This decision has not been made lightly, but having considered the state of the business and the very serious constraints caused by the spread of the Covid-19 disease and the downturn in the oil and gas market, the company must now take this painful, but decisive step to ensure the continuity of its business and delivery of essential services to its clients,” the company added.