Nigeria's Arik Air (W3, Lagos), currently in receivership, has announced the resumption of normal flight operations after resolving what it called an “impasse” with the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) claiming that “the incessant union unrest has finally been put behind us”.

The airline in a statement said normal schedules had resumed after striking NUATE members on December 3 and 4 had disrupted the airline's flights and operations, preventing passengers' processing at the domestic terminals of Lagos. The employees responded to the airline's sacking of 300 employees last week because of the impact of COVID-19.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that placard-carrying members of NUATE and the Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) had also blocked the entrance of the airline’s head office in Lagos. The unions alleged that several staff members had been furloughed for too long and that pensions were being owed.

NUATE General-Secretary Aba Ocheme confirmed to Punch newspaper that the strike had been suspended pending negotiations with Arik Air management this week. He said the union intended to achieve a fair deal for the retrenched employees.

ATSSSAN Chairman Innocent Atasie told NAN the unions had sought intervention from the Ministry of Aviation, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, and the Ministry of Labour.

Owing to major financial stress, Arik Air in 2017 was taken over by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), which has been working to stabilise the airline and its operations. It is now managed by aviation expert Roy Ukpebo Ilegbodu, under the receivership of senior advocate, Oluseye Opasanya.

Meanwhile, a group of Nigerian investors with stakes in Arik Air on December 9 appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to return the airline to its former owners, claiming the take-over by AMCON had been illegal and ill-advised, reported The Sun newspaper.

Addressing a media briefing in Abuja, spokesperson Abdul-Rauf Tijani claimed the retrenchment of 300 employees was attributable to a continued lack of investments in the carrier since AMCON took it over.