Daily Trust (Abuja)

11 January 2012

Nigeria: Labour Strike Grounds International Flights

Lagos — As the national strike enters day two, international flights were totally grounded yesterday at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos (MMIA).

The grounding of the international flights saw over 500 passengers helplessly stranded at the airport.

The Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress stormed the airport and stopped foreign airlines from taking off in all the airports.

On Monday, Arik Air, Virgin Atlantic and few other airlines operated few international flights but that wasn't to be yesterday.

Foreign airlines like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Emirates, Arik Air, Ethiopian, Air France and KLM had thought they would be allowed to operate, but the unions prevented them from checking in passengers.

The in-house unions; Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria, National Union of Air Transport Employees and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers barricaded entry point into the airport.

The Murtala Mohamed Airport 2 (MMA2), the local wing also remained shut yesterday in compliance with the strike.

The National President of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Comrade Benjamin Okewu noted that if you go to the international wing of the airports it's closed stressing that the union sympathize with the stranded passengers.

Okewu said: Well the situation has not changed; we are just coming from the international airport now, if you go to international you will realize that all the counters are closed.

"Passengers are stranded, we actually sympathize with them but this is a national strike and we cannot but comply with the directives from Trade Unions Congress and then the Nigerian Labour Congress, there was enough information and instruction that all the seaports, airports and virtually all operations formation should be closed," he affirmed.

"We believe that the airlines and the various countries would have gotten the information to advise their airlines accordingly," he added.

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