Bristow Helicopters is struggling to remain operational as the disruption in aviation business by COVID-19 pandemic is threatening the existence of the company. In order to avoid shutdown, Bristow Helicopters has drastically downsized its workforce, specifically the pilot and engineer department.
The economic downturn caused by the pandemic and the lockdown across sectors, negatively affected the aviation industry's revenue, with airlines counting their losses for almost five months. Several airlines in Nigeria have been sacking their workers to save cost, and Bristow Helicopters is the latest airline to take the same path.
The company sacked more than 100 pilots and engineers in response to its declining revenue. AllNews had reported that the aviation industry were losing about N20 billion monthly during the lockdown as airlines went for about five months without recording any income.
While defending its decision, Bristow Helicopters said the sack of the pilots and engineers was necessary to prevent the company from collapsing and ensure business continuity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic which is still spreading globally as search for vaccines take longer.
The downturn in the oil and gas market also contributed to the decision of Bristow Helicopters to disengage the pilots and engineers - the decision affected both national and expatriates, "This decision has not been made lightly, but having considered the state of the business and the very serious constraints caused by the spread of COVID-19 and the downturn in the oil and gas market, the company must now take this painful, but decisive step to ensure the continuity of its business and delivery of essential services to its clients,” the statement read.
“One of these measures includes the right-sizing of the business to ensure that the company has the optimal level of personnel to continue the safe delivery of its services to its clients, whilst allowing the appropriate capacity for future growth. Accordingly, and with much regret, the company has taken the very difficult decision to release over 100 pilots and engineers (both national and expatriates) over the next couple of weeks.”
Bristow Helicopters said the sacked pilots and engineers will be compensated as stated in their terms of employment. According to the firm, the pilots and engineers will be paid three months’ salary, but this excludes applicable deductions. It further stated that the airline will meet with the pilots and engineers' union to settle the compensation package.
While Bristow Helicopters is looking to negotiate with the union on payout for the disengaged workers, Punch reports that Yakubu Dukas, the National Vice President of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), has said the union will fight the disengagement of the pilots and engineers.