**Reiterates commitment to providing excellent service in Nigeria
By Dipo Olowookere
Bristow Helicopters has reiterated its commitment to continued service excellence in Nigeria with the addition of four new S76D aircraft to its fleet.
At a media engagement in Lagos recently, management of Bristow Nigeria led by the Managing Director, Captain Akin Oni, reassured Nigerians that irrespective of the downturn in the oil and gas sector where Bristow operates, the company remains committed to operations in Nigeria and focused on providing a safe and efficient service throughout the country.
According to Mr Oni, “Notwithstanding the downturn in the sector and our reduced activities, Bristow remains committed to operations in Nigeria. We have been operating in our present form since 1969 and intend to continue to operate in Nigeria. Our focus remains on providing a safe and efficient service throughout Nigeria.”
“We are committed to developing new opportunities to serve the Nigerian market. Last year, we introduced a fixed wing business charter service operating the Lagos – Port Harcourt route for the benefit of our clients and other business corporations. This service is operated by 2 Embraer 135 aircraft.
“Last week, we expanded the service to include a Lagos – Abuja route, currently operating 3 days a week, as demanded by our clients. This service is an example of how we are able to diversify and provide a service outside our core oil and gas sector,” Mr Oni explained.
Recently in the oil and gas sector, Bristow introduced a search and rescue service, the first of its kind in Nigeria. The service will be provided by a Leonardo AW139 with capabilities for both day and night rescue operations.
In the development of national content, Bristow continue to recruit and train national cadets to qualify as pilots and engineers with the company expending about $250,000 (cadet pilots) and $80,000 (cadet engineers) per annum on training its cadets until qualification as pilots or engineers.
This year, Bristow has employed 37 recently qualified national pilots and engineers all of whom received Bristow sponsorship and support towards qualification while effective since April 2016, the company implemented parity in remuneration between the national and expatriate aircraft type-licensed pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers.
However, from the second half of 2014 as a result of decline in the global oil and gas market which affects Nigeria, Bristow has witnessed a significant reduction in the level of activity, the requirement for aircraft and flight hours for offshore transport leading to the release of 89 expatriate engineers and pilots and in addition, 26 support staff in 2015.
All releases according Bristow Nigeria Managing Director were done in agreement with the respective Labour Unions, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSAN).
Furthermore in 2016 with the continuous shrinking of the oil and gas market, Bristow releases 29 more expatriate engineers and pilots and 16 support staffs including 21 national pilots and engineers.
Mr Oni stated that, “whilst the release of a staff is never an easy decision, the release of any national pilot or engineer is even more difficult. Most of our national engineers and pilots were recruited as cadets and received funding from the company for training. We very much view these national pilots and engineers as long term employees and future leaders of the company.”
“We have met with NAAPE on several occasions to discuss and agree compensation payable to the released national engineers and pilots. Some of these meetings have been presided by the Ministry of Labour. We continue to engage with NAAPE on the subject and remain open to an amicable dialogue to reach agreement on the matter,” he concluded.
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