The British Airline Pilots Association have announced that British Airways pilots have accepted a deal that will temporarily cut their pay by 20% and limit job losses to just about 270, as against the initial planned 1,255.
This deal has resolved an ongoing bitter dispute between the pilots and the airline, as the carriers attempt to navigate through the global slump in air travel due to COVID-19.
The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), while disclosing that just over one-fifth of the 1,255 initially planned redundancies will be allowed to go, the terms of the agreement suggest that the pilots will accept an initial pay cut of 20%, which will gradually reduce to 8% over a 2-year period and then phase out entirely in a longer-term.
The pilot union said that there will not be firing and rehiring of pilots. The UK lawmakers had previously been very critical of British Airways over the alleged usage of furlough fire and rehire scheme, a strategy used by companies to force employees to accept inferior terms.
They accused the airline of planning to cut as many as 12,000 jobs and exploiting the coronavirus crisis to reduce staff and weaken the employment terms of those remaining.
Airlines have been seriously hit by government lockdowns and restrictions that are parts of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The hopes of the airlines recovering at the tail end of the profitable summer tourism season seem to have been dashed due to disruptions caused by a new wave of the virus outbreak in many countries, including France and Spain, with new travel restrictions being placed by them.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), had revealed that a full recovery is unlikely before 2024, which is a year later than it had earlier predicted. The British Airways, while agreeing with this bleak assessment, says that it does not expect the airline to return to pre-COVID-19 business level until at least 2023.
The IAG Group, holding company for British Airways, said yesterday, “Therefore we need to act now to reshape our company for a very different future.”
The company has not received the billions in bailouts that some rival airlines like Air France-KLM and Deutsche Lufthansa received. The assistance they got was only limited to furlough funds to protect jobs and state-backed loans.
Global lockdowns imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic have negatively affected air travel, thereby putting the future of many airlines in serious doubt.
UAE denies placing travel ban on Nigerians, gives reason for suspending visa issuance
The travel between Nigeria and UAE remained limited due to the closure of the Nigerian airspace.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassy in Nigeria has reacted to media reports about the purported travel restrictions imposed on Nigerians wishing to travel to the UAE.
In its response, the UAE Embassy in Abuja refuted the accuracy of the information which was contained in those reports, while also affirming the growing bilateral relations between the 2 friendly countries.
This disclosure was made in an official statement by the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Abuja on Thursday, August 6, 2020.
The embassy, in its statement, said the UAE government acknowledged that travel between Nigeria and the UAE has been limited due to the closure of the Nigerian airspace. Part of the statement said:
“In response to recent press and social media reports regarding purported travel restrictions between the UAE and Nigeria, and in an affirmation of the growing bilateral relations between the two friendly countries, the UAE Embassy in Abuja denies the accuracy of the information contained in these reports.
“At the onset of the COVlD-19 pandemic, the UAE took a number of precautionary measures to combat the virus’ spread, including the temporary suspension on issuing UAE visas for all nationalities as of March 17, 2020.
“After entering the recovery phase of the pandemic, the UAE eased some measures on July 7, permitting visitors from various countries to adhere to the necessary precautionary measures, including by showing negative PCR test results within 92 hours of travelling to the UAE. This includes those visiting from Nigeria.”
The statement also noted that the UAE Embassy and the Nigerian Government will continue to work closely to obtain the necessary approvals to facilitate travel between both countries.
It can be recalled that there were media reports which were triggered by claims of a travel agency, saying that visa renewals for Nigerians in the UAE, approval for permanent residents, and tourist visas have been discontinued.
Some social media users, in reaction to the development, linked the new restrictions to some of the fraud cases involving some Nigerians in Dubai recently
— UAE Embassy in Nigeria (@UAEEmbassyNGR) August 6, 2020
FG commences process of resumption of international flight operations in weeks
The government has expressed its readiness to reopen the nation’s airspace in a matter of weeks.
The Federal Government has commenced the process of gradual resumption of international flight operations which were suspended as part of measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19.
Airport authorities have expressed their readiness to reopen the nation’s airspace in a matter of weeks rather than months.
During a briefing on Thursday, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, said that approvals have been given for aviation authorities to commence the process for the resumption of international flight operations.
Aliyu revealed that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), other aviation agencies and the airlines, are to come up with a safe process through which airlines operating international flights can resume operations.
The PTF National Coordinator further disclosed:
“For international travel, we have made recommendations to the aviation industry to commence the process for reopening international airports, provided all existing international and local COVID-19 protocols are in place.
“We have modified the protocol for passenger arrivals at the airports. Domestic passengers arriving at the airports are advised to arrive one hour before their flights and three hours before international flights when this restarts.”
He said passengers arriving for domestic flights can now arrive an hour and a half before departure, while international flight passengers are to arrive 3 hours before departure.
In his statement earlier, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, who also doubles as the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, had disclosed that the major changes being proposed in the eased lockdown were aimed at achieving gradual reopening of international flight operations within parameters.
It also includes reopening of rail transportation within established parameters and the granting of permissions to exit classes to resume ahead of examinations.
In his own contribution, the Minister for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said that the decision to resume flight operations was not purely an aviation problem, as it had to do with health.
He revealed that the PTF had set up a technical committee that would deliberate on the date that all the stakeholders in international air transport would be happy to start operations.
While sharing in the pain of Nigerians, Hadi Sirika admitted that the closure of the international air space had separated families and friends, denied people access to hospitals and schools abroad as well as denied them access to their businesses.
Just In: Nigerian High Commission in UK gives details of next batch of evacuation flight
The payment by evacuees for their ticket will be accepted at the going market rate of N475/$1
The Nigerian High Commission to the United Kingdom said the 7th batch of evacuation flight from Gatwick Airport, London to Abuja has been scheduled for August 15, 2020. This information is contained in a statement that was issued by the Commission on Tuesday, August 4th, 2020.
The statement disclosed that arrangements have been concluded with the Nigerian airline, Air Peace, for the next batch of repatriation flight for stranded Nigerian nationals in the United Kingdom.
It also stated the following airfares for the prospective evacuees. These include $1,800 or N855,000 per passenger for a business class (29 available seats) and $850 or N403,750 per passenger for economy class (303 seats available). The statement further noted that child fare will be the same as adult fare, while infants, who are below 2 years old, will pay 10% of adult fare. Part of the statement said:
“The High Commission wishes to inform all prospective evacuees that arrangements have been concluded with Air Peace Airlines for the next batch of evacuation flight for stranded Nigerian nationals in the United Kingdom. The flight is scheduled to depart Gatwick Airport, London on 15th August 2020 at 11.00 am to Abuja only.
‘’In the light of the foregoing, please find here under the ticket fares; Business Class (29 seats) $1,800/N855,000 per passenger, Economy Class (303 seats) $850/N403,750 per passenger, Child fare is same as adult fare and Infant (under 2 years) 10% of adult fare.’’
The statement also noted that the payment by prospective evacuees to Air Peace’s account with Fidelity Bank will be accepted at the going market rate of N475/$1. It noted that if payment is made by proxy, the full names of the passengers as it appears on International Passport must be reflected in the payment reference.
Provision for the following baggage allowances was also made in the statement:
- 2 pieces of 23kg check-in-luggage each plus 7kg hand luggage (for Economy class)
- 2 pieces of 32kg check-in luggage each plus 10kg hand luggage (for Business class)