ABUJA Dec 20 Aviation staff have launched an
indefinite strike targeting Arik Airlines, Nigeria's largest
carrier, amid a dispute over salary arrears and contracts, three
trade unions said.
Nigeria is in its first recession in 25 years and earlier
this year two other local carriers, Aero Contractors and First
Nation, suspended operations amid financial difficulties.
In a statement issued late on Monday, the unions said the
strike began at midnight (2300 GMT) and would continue
indefinitely until demands, including the payment of seven
months of salary arrears and negotiations over contract
conditions, were met.
"All ground handling services, security clearance for Arik
Air ticket holders, marshalling, aviation fuel supply, air
traffic controls, safety inspection, will be completely
withdrawn," said the unions.
The statement was issued by the National Union of Air
Transport Employees, Air Transport Services Senior Staff
Association of Nigeria and the National Association of Aircraft
Pilots and Engineers.
The impact on services provided by the airline, which flies
across Africa's most populous nation and to London, New York and
Johannesburg, was not immediately clear.
"It is not a strike by Arik staff. The aviation unions
stopped our operations," Arik Air spokesman Ola Adebanji said in
a text message. He did not elaborate.
Arik Air is planning to raise as much as $1 billion through
a private share placement next year and then a possible initial
public offering (IPO) in Lagos and London, its managing director
said in October.
Nigerian airlines and international carriers operating
within the country have struggled with a plunge in the naira
that has made it difficult to remain profitable as most
passengers pay in the local currency.
International carriers United Air Lines and Iberia
stopped services to Nigeria earlier this year, while
others have begun refuelling abroad to avoid jet fuel shortages.
International airlines have complained about the difficulty
of repatriating millions of dollars worth of fares sold in
Nigeria's local currency.
(Reporting by Camillus Eboh and Alexis Akwagyiram; editing by