, LAGOS, Sept 5 – Air Nigeria said on Wednesday that it has sacked nearly all of its workforce for “disloyalty” and will suspend operations, including a Lagos-London route, from September 10.
Air Nigeria’s chairman and oil magnate Jimoh Ibrahim set up the private airline two years ago, after purchasing the fleet of the now defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways.
Ibrahim told AFP he had to fire his staff to ensure passenger safety, but workers have accused management of failing to pay salaries and refusing to address poor working conditions. They went on strike in June.
“We will stop our operation from September 10. We had to take this step in order to address the continued disloyalty of our staff,” Ibrahim said.
He said only 50 members of the airline’s 1,000-strong workforce were being retained to help the company “reposition itself for improved and better services”.
“Aviation is a serious business where issues of safety cannot be compromised. In two years, we have had a good safety record and in order to sustain that record, we have to have loyal and dedicated staff,” he said.
Ibrahim accused his staff of taking the company for “a ride and making the business environment hostile.”
“We need fresh blood and as soon as we have that in place the airline will resume operation,” he added.
Passengers were stranded for weeks during the June strike, which came just days after a Dana Air flight that originated in the capital Abuja crashed in Lagos, killing at least 159 people, one of Nigeria’s worst air disasters.