Palpable fear has gripped over 8,000 airline and allied workers as employers begin massive cut of salaries, amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to the grounding of over 76 domestic planes.
Arik Air on Wednesday slashed the April salaries of its workers by 80 per cent and sent over 90 per cent of its over 1,500 employees on compulsory leave without pay.
Already, Azman Air and Max Air had sent over 1,000 workers on compulsory leave without pay, citing the ravaging effect of the COVID-19 on business.
The eight domestic airlines and allied companies account for over 8,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, operators in Nigeria’s airline and tourism sub-sectors have put the economic stimulus package required by the industry at about N45bn.
Reacting to the instability in the travels and tourism sub-sectors caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute for Tourism Professionals of Nigeria urged the Federal Government to accord priority and prime attention to the sectors in all its economic stimulus, palliatives and interventions.
The National President, ITPN, Abiodun Odusanwo, said the sectors had suffered the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic because of the nature and economic activities of the business that involved the movement of people and services.
This, he said, was why operators in the sectors needed urgent intervention from the government to salvage the sectors from looming collapse.
He said sustainable business activities in the tourism sector had been completely hampered by the restrictions placed on the movement of people and the lockdown of most parts of the country.
Odusanwo observed that what the tourism sector was currently witnessing were travel restrictions and recommendations leading to the outright cancellations of travel and accommodation bookings.
He stressed that as long as the pandemic lasted, the impact on tourism would be irreversible leading to a myriad of operational challenges and losses.
Odusanwo said in economic terms, hotels would lose billions from cancellations, smaller ones would stop operations, while unemployment would skyrocket in the sector.
The ITPN president noted that the labour force in the sector would suffer similar fate as employees would be forced to take unpaid leaves, while others would work as part-time staff.
Also, the workers under the aegis of Hotel and Personal Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, have called on the Federal Government to prevail on employers to pay salaries and not downsize.
Expressing fears that employers might sack workers, they pleaded with the government to intervene as laying off any workers at this critical time could lead to industrial unrest.