Nigerian pilots and engineers have expressed support for the proposed national carrier, Nigeria Air, saying that it will create jobs.
According to the newly elected President of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, Abednego Galadima, there are over 600 unemployed pilots and engineers, and the association has been asking the government to do something about the situation.
He said, “The project has our total support. Every investment in the airline business is always welcomed by NAAPE. For us, it is more than a national carrier; we know that it will create jobs and our members stand to benefit more in that regard. We however expect that due process and transparency must be followed.
“If the national carrier comes, it is a plus for us. While they absorb some, there will be some migration from one airline to the other. It is our hope that some of the unemployed will find somewhere to fit in. They are talking about five aircraft to start the operation. You know that will require a minimum of 50 pilots. The spiral effect will require that 100 more people are engaged.”
Galadima said unemployment of pilots and engineers had grown so much that at some point, there were over 200 to 250 unemployed associate pilots; while pilots and engineers, were over 600.
“The rate of unemployment in the country is high but this one is particularly a problem because these two professions require you to be current and most of the ones that were trained were trained with huge sums of money. The investment will be lost if they do not retain currency; they will not be employable again if they are not current,” he said.
He stated that NAAPE had sent a proposal to a number of its partners, and was still looking for more partners to fund an initiative to create employment for pilots and engineers, just like what the government was doing for the unemployed through the N-Power programme.
Galadima said, “If that can be extended to aviation, NAAPE is willing to partner anybody such that if the Nigerian Collage of Aviation Technology is given some money, the young pilots will go and build hours flying aircraft there and use simulator as well. It will help them build more hours to gather more experience and expertise.
“And then for the engineers, we are putting a scheme in place in that proposal, where these people can be deployed in various aviation entities where we have senior engineers that will take them through on-the-job training and guide them properly.”
At the recent unveiling of NAAPE’s ‘Compendium of 50 outstanding Nigerian aircraft pilots and engineers’ in Lagos, Galadima had also said there was a need to create opportunities for mentoring, so that the younger generation could learn from the ageing workforce in the industry.
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