ASSOCIATION of Ground Handlers of Nigeria (AGHAN) has called on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to review upwards ground handling charges, as what currently entails is peanuts and warned that safety may be compromised if the regulatory agency does not put the right policy in place.
This is just as AGHAN is appealing government to adjust and waive the annual 5 per cent concession fee for ground handling companies in the Nigerian aviation industry as well as custom duty waivers for importation of its equipment.
Chairman AGHAN, Mr. Adigun Olaniyi Adigun in an interview today in Lagos decried the handling charges by ground handlers stating that on the domestic scene, the handlers charge only a N30, 000 turnaround fee, while on the international scene; its charges vary from $200 to $1000, depending on the aircraft brand and capacity.
He called on the NCAA to intervene in the situation by implementing the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulation on handling charges, describing the present charges as capital flight against the country and appealing to the government to intervene in the interest of the nation.
“On the international and regional, what we are saying is that there should be a fair play in the system. Some of our airlines are operating regional and international operations. How much are they paying on those routes? But, because of the unhealthy competition then, the airlines seized the advantage. Unfortunately, the major ground handling companies came out from airlines. For instance, SAHCO was an offshoot of the defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways and NAHCO too was from British Airways, Lufthansa and others.
“What we are saying is that for international, there is a Federal Government approved rate as was done in the 1980s, which varies from $2,000 and N3, 000, depending on the aircraft brand. What we want is the implementation of this rate, but the government is saying it has to be determined by the law of demand and supply, which is not so anywhere in the world.
“We are asking NCAA to regulate this aspect of the industry, just as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is doing in the financial sector and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in the telecommunication industry. This is to ensure that no one is taking undue advantage of the weak structure we have on ground.”
On the removal of the 5 per cent concession fee; especially for 2020 financial year, Addigun said it was necessary for AGHAN members to remain in business.
He also asked the government to modify the mode of collection of the annual concession fee which is calculated based on turnaround, rather than on profit.
The ground handling companies remit to the coffers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) 5 per cent concession fee annually.
Adigun explained that rather than stiffened the ground handlers out of business, the handlers required the support of every operator, including the airlines and government agencies.
He said: “There is this 5 per cent concession fee, which we usually pay to FAAN; this is based on our turnaround. Though, there have been some issues on this because FAAN is asking for turnover, which includes money collected and the ones still unremitted. So, we are saying that 5 per cent should be based on profit, not on turnover.
“Our prayer is that this 5 per cent concession fee should be waived for the 2020 financial year. 2020 was tough and there was no work available and the little we had last year was to sustain our staff. Though, the palliative is good, but how far can that go in the life of the Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) Plc or the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc for instance? Whatever we got individually, is not even enough as a monthly wage for the two companies. So, we are asking for the waiver for that 2020.”
AGHAN Chairman, however, lauded the Ministry of Aviation for the recent palliative granted operators in the sector, but sought more bailouts from the government in a bid to sustain its operations.