Flights have been delayed in Nigeria as the country’s air traffic controllers under the aegis of Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), embark on “flow control,” a two-day protest strike over the death of Aniekan Effiong Inuk, an air traffic controller who died on Monday while on duty at Abuja airport.
Flow control is a practice of holding aircraft on the ground in anticipation of congestion at destination airspace or airports.
The decision of the controllers caused the delay or outright cancellation of all morning flights at domestic airports on Tuesday.
In a statement on Tuesday, Abayomi Agoro, NATCA president, and Agbonlahor Felix, NATCA secretary-general, said they are embarking on flow control between November 23 and 24 to register their displeasure over lack of poor working conditions.
According to them, in the last two years, the association has lost nine members on active service “due to stress related health complications which seem associated with poor working conditions and inadequate staffing”.
“Several appeals to management and other stakeholders in the industry and inactions by appropriate managers on communiqués from the Association’s past Annual General Meetings, had failed to address the issues.
“Hence, Air Traffic Controllers are embarking on a three (3) hours flow control for two days, 23rd and 24th November, 2021 from 0600 UTC to 0900 UTC to register our displeasure and call the attention of relevant authorities and the public to quickly address our concerns without further delay.”
The association made some demands that must be met within two weeks to avoid further action.
According to them, “a standard medical emergency kits be provided at all ATC units and a yearly Health Safety Environment (HSE) training programs for ATCOs be conducted,” NATCA said.
“That all ATC communication facilities and equipment, most especially, the VHF radios and SATCOM links be holistically rectified in other to address the perennial communication problems encountered in Nigerian airspace.
“That the staff deployed to ATC from other departments who have been stagnated on the same grade level for over seven years be placed on their appropriate grade levels having fulfilled all requirements to be air traffic controllers.
“That all appropriate managements should immediately approve and implement an upward review of the remunerations of contract ATCOs to make for them to earn Aerodrome and approach rating allowances.
“That the appropriate management should immediately liaise with the Federal Ministry of Aviation and other relevant government bodies to correct the anomalies observed in the recently approved ATC Scheme of Service to allow for implementation in a bid to eliminate the stagnation of air traffic controllers.”