Virgin Atlantic justifies sack of Nigerian workers

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Confusion enveloped the aviation sector over the weekend following report that Virgin Atlantic Airways, one of the two British carriers that fly London- Nigeria route, has pulled out of the country.

Besides stopping its flights operations in the country, the airline was equally alleged to have sacked its crew members working in its Lagos office.

Among its Nigerian workers that were reportedly sacked were 20 cabin crew member while the airline had in 2014 closed its Nigerian call centre and laid off all the Nigerian staff working in that unit.

Marketing Manager of the airline, Mrs. Kudirat Scott-Igbene in a statement on Sunday however said the London -Lagos route would continue to function but the workers are no longer needed.

Her reply to the enquiry by aviation correspondents read, “We have decided that we will no longer have crew based in Lagos. This is by no means a reflection on our Lagos-based cabin crew. The primary purpose of our locally based cabin crew has been to provide cultural expertise, and customer feedback has shown us that this is no longer a requirement on the Lagos route.

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“The additional complexity required to operate an international crew base where there are no foreign language requirement means it is no longer sustainable going forward.

“This announcement has no impact on our flying programme and we plan to continue flights between Lagos and London. After 14 years flying the route we remain committed to servicing the Nigerian people, whether it be for business, family or education.”

Meanwhile, aviation sector unions including the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, (ATSSSAN) have vowed to ensure that the workers of the airline get all their entitlements.

Also, spokesman of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Sam Adurogboye said he is not aware of the purported stoppage of operations by Virgin Atlantic. He said there was nothing wrong in the airline as a private business concern disengaging its staff in Nigeria in as much as the terms of contract were not breached.

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