By Alexis Akwagyiram
LAGOS, March 17 (Reuters) - Nigerian airline Aero has made about 60 percent of its workforce redundant in a desperate effort to stay afloat, it said on Friday.
The more than 400 staff made redundant are mainly support staff such as baggage handlers and security workers, Chief Executive Ado Sanusi said.
“It is very clear that if we did not make the decision the business would die,” said Sanusi, adding that the wage bill for an airline with just two functioning planes was not sustainable.
It comes weeks after the country’s largest airline, Arik Air, went into receivership due to its inability to pay workers.
Airlines in Nigeria, which is in its first recession for 25 years because of a slump in oil revenues, have experienced fuel shortages in recent months because the supply of dollars needed to pay for oil products has dried up.
The fuel shortages have caused an increase in cancellations and delays to flights across Africa’s most populous nation.
Five years ago, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), a state-backed “bad bank” established in 2009, took on more than 132 billion naira ($663 million) of debts from 12 Nigerian airlines including Aero. (Additional reporting by Anamesere Igboeroteonwu in Onitsha; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)