Some airlines are uncomfortable with the high rate of pilots crossing the carpet from one airline to the order, and are seeking the intervention of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The trend has been attributed to poor remuneration and appalling conditions of service, with airlines now being forced to pay more to retain their highly-skilled workers.
The operators are seeking assistance from NCAA to ensure that the bond with their pilots and engineers who want to leave is respected.
The Managing Director of Bristow Helicopters (Nigeria), Capt. Akin Oni, in an interview said: “We used to be very worried about poaching. In fact, we approached the NCAA for assistance, but then, it was poaching from our competitors. We also did some soul searching as to why do we spend $250,000 training a pilot and we allow them to go? We introduced something like bonding.”
He noted that in the Nigerian aviation industry, airlines rarely train pilots and engineers, the two critical professionals needed to run the business, because of the enormous funds needed to do so. So, new operators and those who are witnessing shortage of these two professionals go for established and trained ones to fill the gaps.
This trend has robbed the country of qualified hands while many roam the streets because of lack of on-the- job training as they are not offered the opportunity.
The economic recession has also made training of pilots and engineers to take the back seat. Experts said it cost over $250,000 to train a pilot and a little lesser for an aircraft engineer.
NCAA sSpokesman, Sam Adurogboye, said there is no law that stops poaching, adding that the authority’s role is limited to ensuring that the employee is properly employed.
He said, aside from that, they also wade in to ensure the resolution of labour dispute so as not to impact on safety, noting that poaching is not a new thing in the aviation industry.
Adurogboye disclosed that an airline had, at the peak of operations, even poached professionals from NCAA, people they spent so much to train until they had to step in to halt the process.
He said until that portion is included in the new civil aviation policy that government is fashioning, it would stand on nothing to implement, stressing that the airline operators under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria should wade in to stem the tide.