Nigerian Airline, Air Peace, has yanked over 70 pilots off its payroll and slashed staff salaries by up to 40 per cent.

“This decision was taken for the greater good of the company and its almost three thousand workforce, the affected pilots inclusive,” the company said in a statement.

The statement added that the closure of airspace around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant pruning the workforce became inevitable.

“The airline cannot afford to toe the path of being unable to continue to fulfill its financial obligations to its staff, external vendors, aviation agencies, maintenance organisations, insurance companies, banks and other creditors.

“Hence, the decision to restructure its entire operations with a view to surviving the times.

“The pandemic has hit every airline worldwide, so badly that it has become very impossible for airlines to remain afloat without carrying out internal restructuring of their costs.

“Anything short of what we have done may lead to the collapse of an airline as could be seen in some places worldwide during this period.

“Therefore, we decided to review the salaries being paid to all staff. The new salaries reflect a 0-40 per cent cut of the former salary depending on the salary grades of every staff.

“Even after the cuts, it was obvious that for us to be able to sustain our operations and survive the times, some jobs must inevitably have to go,” the statement said.

Air Peace CEO, Allen Onyema [Twitter]
Air Peace CEO, Allen Onyema [Twitter]

The management said Air Peace never owed salaries in six years of its operation.

Rather, the company said, Air Peace has been known to increase salaries of its employees periodically without promptings from staff.

“In fact, in one fell swoop, Air Peace increased the salaries of pilots by over 100 per cent in one day!

“Our salaries have always been paid even before the end of the month in the last five years.

“So, we love all our staff. This decision is inevitable under the circumstances we find ourselves.

“In order to protect the continuity of the majority of the existing jobs and the possibility of creating new ones in future, the survival of the airline is of paramount importance.

“When everything comes back to normal, those pilots affected today will have a place to come back to in future, if they so wish,” the statement added.

“We are in trying times. Even the biggest airlines in Europe, America, Middle East, Asia, Australia and, indeed, Africa, are all either slashing jobs and cutting salaries in order to remain afloat or are shutting down.

“Air Peace is not immune from these challenges,” the statement said.

Nigeria closed its airspace to domestic and international flights in March in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Domestic airlines have been allowed to commence operations since July.