THE aviation sector in Nigeria started the week on a bad altitude which once again put a question mark on the sincerity and principles guiding the ease of doing business, being one of the policies of the present government.
There is no point over-stretching the obvious fact that aviation business is one of the major sensitive sectors of any country not only because of the huge funds the business transactions that regularly take place there generate to the GDP of such a country, but in addition due to the seamless movements of humans and cargo coupled with the connectivity it provides through air transport.
Again, because air transport without any doubt has become the safest and fastest means of transport which amongst other facts subsequently help to achieve set goals, the principles guarding and guiding it are propelled by international and recommended practices as spelt out by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in the different annexures which all member states including Nigeria are signatories to.
For proper coordination and as a result of the delicate roles air transport plays, it is the same rules that apply everywhere, hence any attempt to violate such rules often attract general condemnations or in some extreme cases carry heavier sanctions.
As a result of the crucial and unique status of the sector and being one of the most regulated, it has become one family whereby whenever issues like crashes or incidents occur, it involves all countries.
This is why all governments around the world think deeply before rolling out aviation policies and since Nigeria is a signatory to these rules, it cannot continue to do things differently if it still wants to maintain its position in global aviation family.
This therefore brings to the fore the ugly incident that played out between the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) management and the workers as led by the unions over welfare package on Monday which led to chaotic situation.
The workers led by the unions declared an indefinite strike over what they called the failure of the NAHCO management to improve on their welfare package, a situation which inflicted avoidable hardships and losses on passengers, airlines and other allied business organizations across the airports particularly the Lagos airport.
The action which has been dragging between the unions/workers and the management before it got to its peak on Monday took the airlines, the passengers and other airport users unaware.
The NAHCO management cannot even feign ignorance about the absolute consequences of its failure to resolve the issue will have on the generality of businesses across the sector, hence should have guarded against the trauma, the loss and embarrassment inflicted on the whole sector through adequate dissemination of what is expected of all its clients and the entire sector. If it had been more proactive, the bad experience would have been greatly minimized.
With the scenario that played out while the shenanigans lasted, it became obvious that both the unions and the NAHCO management failed to put into consideration the negative impacts of their unpopular actions on the sector providing both domestic and international services.
Sadly, though the deed has already been done, the obvious fact is that allowing welfare issues to degenerate to the point that both the local and international air transport were allowed to crumble for a whole day portrayed the NAHCO management as poor managers in the area of conflict resolutions.
Questions calling for answers amidst the avoidable negligence include: who takes responsibility for the financial losses incurred by the airlines whose flights were irresponsibly disrupted to the extent that one of the domestic carriers for example lost over N500 million at a critical period like this?
For only one airline to have lost such a huge amount, what foreign airlines which form the major bulk of NAHCO clients must have lost in cash can only be imagined.
Besides the human and financial losses, did NAHCO management even realize the dent its negligence has further brought on the entire system before the global community who would be wondering why aviation issues are handled with levity in this clime?
As for the unions, the best time for them to change their tactics as regards activism is now in order not to be left behind in the scheme of struggles. The unions should learn one or two things from their counterparts in other climes in times of crisis. They don’t need to collapse the entire system under the guise of fighting the course of the workers, as such actions will only bring temporary resolutions which may eventually later work against the so-called workers.
Above all, the government should come up with some policies that would serve as guidelines that will spell out the limitations of the unions and what is expected of the different organizations in the sector when there are issues to tackle.
Coming up with such a policy will give room for accountability and responsibility vis a vis, the consequences of who should be made to carry the lapses that such an unpopular actions may create.