Aero Contractors suspends operations over depleted capacity
After months of speculation on the financial health of the oldest local airline in the country, Aero Contractors yesterday announced a temporary suspension of flight operations, effective from tomorrow.
Management of the airline said that the decision was due to depletion of aircraft to run scheduled commercial services.
Coalition of aviation workers’ unions had in May, raised the alarm over an alleged plan to ground Aero Contractors airline and lay-off another 40 per cent of its workforce.
The coalition, made up of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), told reporters that the airline was already on its way to decommissioning following claims that its operating airlines and assets were too old to fly. The management had then denied the claims.
Yesterday, the airline said impacts of the challenging operating environment on daily operations had made temporary suspension of scheduled passenger services inevitable.
The shutdown will, however, not affect subsidiary services at the Aero’s Approved Maintenance Organisation (AMO), the Approved Training Organisation (ATO) and the helicopter and charter services operations.
The management team, led by the Managing Director, Capt. Abdullahi Mahmood, said the decision was carefully considered and taken because “most of our aircraft are currently undergoing maintenance, resulting in our inability to offer a seamless and efficient service to our esteemed customers.”
“We are working to bring these aircraft back to service in the next few weeks, so we can continue to offer our passengers the safe, efficient, and reliable services that Aero Contractors is known for.”
The past few months had indeed been tough for the aviation industry and the airline operators in particular. With the high cost of maintenance, skyrocketing fuel prices, inflation, and forex scarcity resulting in high foreign exchange rates. These are among the major components of airline operations.
“In the meantime, we are working assiduously to return to service as quickly as possible, and do assure our esteemed customers and stakeholders of our determination, that our short absence will not create any major void in the market, as we are coordinating with our business partners to ensure minimum discomfort to ticket holders,” the management said.
As members of Spring Alliance, Aero Contractors plans to liaise with partner airlines to minimise impacts of closure on customers that had bought its tickets.
Recall that the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), in 2016, took over Aero Contractors as part of measures to stabilise the distressed airline. Though the carrier leveraged on its Aircraft Maintenance Organisation (AMO) for profitability, the airline arm continued to plunge in fortune and in 2017 downsized about 60 per cent of workers.