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International Airlines That Fly to Nigeria Might Be Forced to Recruit Local Cabin Crew and Pilots

International Airlines That Fly to Nigeria Might Be Forced to Recruit Local Cabin Crew and Pilots

International airlines that operate flights to Nigeria could be made to hire local cabin crew, pilots and maintenance staff because lawmakers fear the West African country is being “short-changed” by airlines that are allowed unrestricted access to Nigeria’s air travel market.

Nigeria’s homegrown airlines have struggled in recent years and the country’s largest privately-owned airline Air Peace country only flies to a handful of international destinations – the furthest of which are the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.

Other local carriers like the once successful Arik Air are a shadow of their former selves and many Nigerians now rely on foreign carriers like Emirates, Turkish Airlines and British Airways.

A Nigerian politician and head of a governmental committee on aviation, Nnolim Nnaji has now said that these international airlines are going to be subjected to an audit to ascertain how many Nigerians they currently employ as cabin staff and technical crew.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Nnaji meant the number of Nigerians employed by airlines in Nigeria itself or in total and across their entire operations.

Several years ago, Emirates was forced to debunk rumours that it only employed a total of 10 Nigerian staff. Emirates says its cabin crew represent 160 nationalities specifically for the purpose of reflecting its customer mix and international operations.

But Nnaji says that “if it is discovered that Nigeria is being shortchanged in any way, we will not allow it.”

Virgin Atlantic has long hired local Nigerian cabin crew but some carriers including Air France, Delta Air Lines, KLM and British Airways do not have local crew bases. These airlines may, however, hire Nigerian passport holders who also have the right to live and work in the airline’s home country.

International cabin crew and pilot bases were once relatively common but have dwindled in number in recent years as airlines consolidate their operations to a single hub in order to slash spiralling costs.

Going in the other direction, however, is Australian flag carrier Qantas which is expanding its London cabin crew base. Australian unions have been accused of hiring British crew at the expense of Australian jobs because it’s cheaper to employ staff on British contracts.

Nordic airlines including SAS, where the cost of living pushes wages up, have also opened foreign crew bases in recent years in order to cut employee costs.

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