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Breaking: Air Peace allegedly sacks most of its pilots over pay dispute

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On  Sunday night, prominent Nigerian airline Air Peace allegedly sacked the vast majority of the pilots on its payroll following a bitter protracted pay dispute occasioned by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 lockdown. 

According to information revealed exclusively to NewsWireNGR by one of those affected, the body of pilots at the airline was preparing to embark on a strike beginning today Monday August 3, 2020 in response to perceived callousness and intransigence by management on the subject of pay cuts and unethical HR actions aimed at firing pilots without paying the necessary compensation..

The source, who asked to remain anonymous, revealed that the issue began with an email from CEO Allen Onyema two days before the closure of Nigeria’s airspace on March 29, 2020. In that email, which NewsWireNGR has exclusively obtained, Onyema intimated all Air Peace staff of a graduated pay slash starting with 5 percent slash for those earning N150,000 monthly and culminating in 30 percent slash for those earning above N1,000,000 monthly. 

As implied above, the understanding was that the pay cuts and unpaid leave would be temporary measures. According to the source however, Air Peace allegedly reneged on this gentleman’s agreement by attempting to use the back door to permanently clear out its pilot payroll – an action that incensed the body of pilots at the airline and set the stage for a series of increasingly bitter showdowns between management and flight staff. Describing what happened the source said:

“On May 15, copilots on the 737 fleet were called into the office, where they had their company-issued ipads and IDs taken from them and they were placed on suspension, just so the company could get them off payroll without giving them any severance pay. When flights were scheduled to resume we had a zoom meeting with Allen and he informed us that due to staggered opening of airports and a possible low passenger load, he was proposing a 40% salary cut.”

NewsWireNGR gathered that the relationship between management and the aggrieved pilots continued to deteriorate over the next few weeks, resulting in a livid email from Onyema railing against the pilots for “attempting to hold him hostage”, and threatening to close down the airline rather than cave in to them.

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The source further revealed that two days to payday, information about a fresh salary structure came from management, which the pilots found unacceptable.

Describing what happened next, the source said: 

“We all received a revised salary structure that effectively meant our take home pay would be 20% of what it used to be pre-COVID. Efforts to get management to dialogue and understand the safety implications of their actions were only met with threats. We were planning to embark on a strike tomorrow after giving them 2 weeks for dialogue and this evening at 11pm we got termination letters.”

Information revealed to NewsWireNGR shows that the airline’s scheduled flights tomorrow are set to be handled by management pilots who do not usually handle flight duties everyday, including the Director of Flight operations, Head of training and the various fleet managers.

NewsWireNGR has reached out to Air Peace for an official comment on the matter, and we will update the story when the company responds.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. CAPT Thomas Byron

    2020/08/05 at 3:25 pm

    I was a contract Captain on the B777 aircraft having been employed by Air Peace since January 2018. My contract for a third year was renewed in February 2020 for another year. When the airline was shut down in March 2020 I was sent home on March 17th and on 31st of March my contract was terminated and I was only paid 3,150 dollars for the month of March . My normal pay was 12,000 US dollars a month. I have chased up with management of Air Peace for the remaining money and expenses owed me with no answer from Air Peace at all. I wrote to Mr. Onyema and actually got a response from him, but no commitment to pay me. I would be glad to share his response and other company emails with your news service .

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