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Old 16th Oct 2006, 09:16
  #1254 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Afrika sometimes
Age: 65
Posts: 219
Post Bristow or CHC in Nigeria?

Itís an open secret that Bristow are so short of pilots in Nigeria that they will shortly be announcing a change to either 6/6 or 8/4 for touring crew in an effort to stem the number of pilots leaving (some for CHC) and attract new entrants. Naturally, as they havenít announced what the changes to pay and allowances will be as yet, maybe itís also worth looking at the other differences or similarities between the companies so those considering joining one or the other can have more information on which to make their decisions. I hope that other pilots based in Naijaland will correct any mistakes and add their own views. I know this is a rumour network, but getting the true facts will help people to make a proper comparison between the companies and make an informed decision as to whether they want to work for them in Nigeria.

Associated with pay is the additional benefits package. Both companies have these. Bristow offer Accident, Loss of Licence (?), family medical and pension schemes, as do CHC. However, CHC additionally have an interest-free personal computer purchase scheme, an annual shoe purchase allowance, advance of expenses, and 50% towards the cost of a personal pilot headset. I believe both companies offer an employee share purchase scheme. I donít know whether the companies have kidnap insurance for staff in Nigeria (but they certainly should, if they donít!).

CHC pay in Canadian $ to your home bank, but the pay varies every month as only the basic salary is paid for time off. Pay has to be claimed every month via the internet, which can sometimes be a problem from Nigeria. Bristow pay in £ Sterling to an offshore account in the Channel Isles. You donít have to claim (except for expenses) and one twelfth of your annual salary is paid in every month, whether youíre on leave or working. This can make it easier for budgeting.

CHC has central messing and all meals are provided free of charge. A few pilots elect to be self-catering and receive a daily allowance of Naira 2,800 for this. However, the present security situation can make it difficult to get out and do shopping. With Bristow it varies from base to base and for those on a food allowance itís only Naira 2,500 per day. Even in Port Harcourt, there are some pilots living in a hotel and being fed, plus getting an allowance and others who have to pay for all their food.

Housing also varies a great deal. Pilots working on Shell contracts generally live in the best housing, with good leisure facilities such as swimming pools, squash or tennis courts and multi-gyms. CHC has poor quality housing, but every pilot at least has his own self-contained bedroom and all houses have internet and satellite TV. There are almost no leisure facilities except for a few pieces of exercise equipment in a couple of garages. This is being addressed by the purchase of a new housing estate, which they claim will be equipped with swimming pool, multi-gym etc. It will need to, as it is in a notoriously dangerous part of town (rather like the Bristow Shell compound) and it will probably be too dangerous to venture out after dark. Bristow in Port Harcourt also have some staff living in a reasonable hotel with many modern and sporting amenities. Some live on an estate with a non-working swimming pool and a good multi-gym, but when houses are full 2 of the 3 occupants will be sharing a bathroom. It would be impossible to protect against a determined attack by a large number of armed men in all except the estate where the CHC management live, but most housing has some armed protection. As the attack on Eket has shown, this is not nearly enough. CHC in Port Harcourt have armed MOPOL in all transport to and from work and the buses have radios so they can always contact one of the bases (just as well as a lot of the buses should have been consigned to the scrapheap and if they break down on the road both the radio and police become essential in these troubled times). Bristow Shell have MOPOL but other vehicles have neither radio nor police escorts.

All of this, of course, also leads to how well youíll be dealt with if you happen to fall sick or get injured. With CHC thereís a duty doctor 6 days a week at the accommodation. In the event of serious illness or injury they also have a contract with SOS International who have an excellent medical facility at the Intels camp, with a helipad. Here they can either deal with injuries, or prepare you for a medevac flight (usually to South Africa). CHC also have a contract with CRI, a South African managed company which approves local clinics and hospitals after an inspection by their management to ensure they meet reasonable medical standards. The medical facilities are audited annually by a respected Dutch doctor. With Bristow it seems rather hit and miss and, as far as I know, they have no contracts with either SOS or CRI (but with the present security situation itís time they made a serious effort to redress this).

As far as travel to and from work, both companies seem about the same, although with CHC youíll normally be travelling on a Ďmarineí fare ticket. This is a scam that says youíre a seaman on a vessel based in the Maldives or wherever. It does mean that no matter how long your journey youíll be in cattle class, with no opportunity to upgrade. They will, however, pay for you to purchase an annual lounge pass so that you can use business class lounges in many airports if you have a long stopover, and for even longer stopovers they are very good at reserving day rooms at airport hotels.

Iím sure there are many other things which can be added to what Iíve listed, both good and bad and some of my information may be outdated, so please add your own observations.
TomBola is offline