Nigerian airport workers threaten strike while runway is repaired at Abuja

Reuters

Nigerian airport employees may walk out over pay issues at the capital’s temporary airport while the main airport’s runway is being repaired, their trade union said on Saturday.

The Abuja airport runway had deteriorated to such an extent that some major international airlines had refused to fly there, and some aircraft reported damage to their undercarriage.

Nigeria’s government has said airlines will be able to use the airport at the provincial city of Kaduna, 100 miles (160 km) north of Abuja during the six-week repair period from March 8.

But scepticism over the government’s plans reigns, as a new terminal for Kaduna was still being built in January and airlines have said they will not fly there to keep servicing Abuja.

“The federal government has to pay staff posted from Abuja to Kaduna all their entitlements before we can contemplate moving to Kaduna to give our services,” said Olayinka Abioye, secretary general of the National Union Of Air Transport Employees (NUATE).

“There have been situations in the past when such staff were owed their travel and other associated entitlements for two to three years. We do not want a repeat.”

Abuja-bound passengers will have to temporarily fly to Kaduna and travel by bus under security escort to the capital on a road where kidnappings have taken place in the past few years.

Kaduna airport handled just 12 international flights in December 2015, the last month for which Nigeria’s airports authority has figures, compared with 812 that used Abuja.

(Reporting by Anamesere Igboeroteonwu; writing by Paul Carsten; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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