The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency on Monday deployed police officers in strategic locations within the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, in a bid to maintain law and order.
This followed earlier threats by the National Union of Air Transport Employees, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria to shut down the nation’s airspace.
Police officers were stationed at the General Aviation Terminal, Murtala Mohammed Airport Two, and NAMA headquarters.
It was learnt that senior management employees of the airspace agency took over the duty posts of Air Traffic Controllers at the airport, as the latter refused to work on Monday.
Our correspondent gathered that the headquarters of NAMA was locked by the unions in the evening of Sunday, but the offices were forced open by the management of the airspace agency on Monday.
The unions, in a joint statement, warned the flying public against relying on the aircraft separation measures currently done by the senior management staff of NAMA.
The statement, which was signed by the union leaders, read in part, “We hasten to draw attention of the Nigerian flying public, the airlines and importantly, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to the danger inherent in the current situation in NAMA.
“Certain management staff, who do not have the prerequisite validation for various air traffic control service facilities and systems, are now drafted to take charge of operations such as air traffic control, aeronautical information services, aeronautical communications and air traffic engineering services. This is contrary to International Civil Aviation Organisation standards and recommended practices on security and safety.”
Reacting to the allegation, the General Manager, Public Affairs, NAMA, Mr. Supo Atobatele, said the airspace agency’s personnel were fit to discharge the duties.
According to him, the agency had successfully handled nine international flights while all the local flights went on as scheduled.
He said, “They (unions) are using another scheme when they saw that the previous one failed.”
Meanwhile, a statement from the Ministry of Aviation said the unions had shelved their proposed industrial action. The statement said the decision to halt the strike followed some resolutions taken at the end of a meeting in Abuja.
It said the meeting which, was convened at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr. Emeka Wogu, had in attendance the leadership of both unions and the management of NAMA.