NUATE Knocks Turkish Airlines Over $600,000 Ticket Racketeering Claim Against Nigerian Staff

NUATE Knocks Turkish Airlines Over $600,000 Ticket Racketeering Claim Against Nigerian Staff

The last may not have been heard about the crisis between Turkish Airlines and Nigeria’s National Union of Air Transport Employee (NUATE), over the sack of seven Nigerian staff by the airlines, as the aviation workers described its $600,000 ticket racketeering claim as false.

LEADERSHIP reports that NUATE had picketed Turkish Airlines over alleged high handedness and severe maltreatment of workers, including unjustifiable dismissal and forced resignation of seven workers. The picketing resulted in passengers being stranded at the Lagos and Istanbul Airports.

However, in a statement signed by NUATE’s general secretary, Ocheme Aba, and a copy of which was made available to LEADERSHIP, it stated that the report that the sacked staff were involved in ticket racketeering was untrue.

According to Ocheme, it was the sales manager, a Turkish national, who asked staff to use the PNR obtained online by the customers to process their tickets.

Ocheme said manual processing of tickets were necessary since customers can’t pay online due to sales restriction circular from the airlines as a response to the difficulty in repatriating their proceeds.

The union leader said, “We wish to let the public and stakeholders know that the accusations are blatant and poorly formulated lies. In the first place, the claim that the Airline lost $600,000 is mere phantom. What happened is that sometime in April, 2023, Turkish Airlines’ headquarters issued a sales restriction circular which allowed sales of only two premium classes of tickets as a response to foreign airlines’ difficulty in repatriating their proceeds to home countries due to foreign exchange constraints in Nigeria.

“But, in a contradicting manner the Airline had an advertised fare on the website which was much lower than the permitted fares. Therefore, intending passengers who accessed such fare, but could not pay online were directed by the global call center to approach the Nigerian offices. As the workers could not attend to the customers due to the sales restriction, the passengers resorted to creating ugly scenes at the sales offices which became riotous at times.

“As an image saving measure, the then sales manager asked the sales staff to use the PNR obtained online by the customers to process the tickets if the Airline’s booking system could route the tickets. The sales staff simply complied. As a matter of fact, the then sales manager, a Turkish national, sold this tickets too to confirm that this was the local management’s approved approach to resolving the problem created by the website.

“The Airline’s accountants received all due monies from all tickets sold and all sales report were daily submitted to sales manager, signed by him and accounts department and scanned to HQ. If monies were not fully received, the account would not have balanced, and sales could not have been concluded. Therefore, no monies belonging to Turkish Airlines is missing. And no staff has taken any monies belonging to Turkish Airlines. Importantly, no staff had any pecuniary benefit from the so-called internet sales.

“It is, therefore, disingenuous for the General Manager to hold the workers to the charge of failure to comply with the sales restrictions when it is clear that shortcomings on the part of the Airlines ICT (on the website) combined with Local Management’s decisions on managing an otherwise ugly situation were responsible for the sales in question.

“It is noteworthy that while the Nigerian staff have been dismissed, the Turkish Sales Manager has been promoted and redeployed, and the ICT of the airline has answered no charges. Talk about racism. What better example than this.”

Meanwhile, the aviation union has declared the general manager of Turkish Airlines in Lagos, Lokman Balkan, persona non grata, over allegations that the sacked Nigerian staff were involved in ticket racketeering.

The union, however, threatened to instruct all aviation workers not to attend to him at any Nigerian airport, except at his exit from Nigeria.

The union stated that if compelled, NUATE shall internationalise the GM’s ostracising from the global aviation family.

“NUATE wishes to state that the high-handedness, plain wickedness and undiluted arrogance of Mr. Lokman Balkan, the General Manager of Turkish Airlines in Lagos makes him totally unfit to hold such important position as to manage people. He has demonstrated total disdain for Nigerians and Nigerian laws – even aviation laws.

“There is no hiding the fact that Lokman is averse to ethical behaviour, and constitutes a present and definite danger to airline business in Nigeria. In order climes, Lokman would have been arrested and deported by now at the very least.

“On our part, however, NUATE has declared Lokman Balkan persona non grata. We shall instruct all aviation workers not to handle him at any Nigerian airport, except at his exit from Nigeria. And if compelled, NUATE shall internationalize his ostracizing from the global aviation family. At the appropriate time he will also answer to the defamation of the character of the hapless staff.

“In conclusion, NUATE wishes to, on the one hand, assure Mr. Lokman Balkan, GM of Turkish Airlines in Lagos that his mission to exterminate the Union from the Airline will meet with utter failure. If anything, it will be he, not the hard working Nigerian staff, who will leave the Airline.

“On the other hand, NUATE assures the public and aviation stakeholders that our justified position will be pursued in the manner that other aviation businesses will not be negatively impacted, but only to the extent that we are allowed to prosecute our struggle without unlawful hindrances,” the statement stated.

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