- As Olateru charges handlers to collaborate, stop price war
A former Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren is advocating that foreign airlines should pay the Dollar equivalent as ground handling charges citing ground handling charges as major challenge indigenous carriers have when they ventured out.
This is just as he has said that the era where airlines would owe ground handler A and jump to B is gradually coming to an end as the ground handling companies in the country have banded together to check such practice.
Demuren was one of the panelists at the maiden edition of the Association of Aviation Ground Handlers (AGHAN) Zoom virtual conference with the theme, “Impact of COVID-19 on Nigerian Aviation Ground Handling Industry: Safety, Rate, Regulations” yesterday.
The former NCAA boss revealed that the huge payment for ground handling services abroad was a major problem for some of Nigeria’s domestic airlines that made efforts to operate international flights.
To buttress his point, Demuren mentioned Air Peace, Arik Air and Med-View Airlines as some Nigeria’s domestic carriers that have experienced the very high ground handling charges, as according to him ‘they pay a lot.
He added that if the international airlines pay in Naira, they should pay the Dollar equivalent as ground handling charges but he however submitted that airlines must pay their bills be they local or international airlines for the ground handlers to remain afloat.
Demuren also advised ground handling companies in the country not to price themselves out of the market by increasing their charges urging them to meet with the domestic airlines to explain the reason why they cannot charge same for services they rendered pre-COVID-19, now that the pandemic is biting harder.
He said that the essence is for the ground handlers to continue to enjoy patronage and that it is only when the domestic airlines are operating that the ground handling companies would have people to deal with.
He stated that having equipment at various airports is not the problem but that the challenge is how many flights are operated from these airports.
“If the airlines cannot survive, there will be no ground handlers because people are not flying .We need to balance it.
“We have to be very careful, the regulation gives the domestic airline the right to handle them or do ground handling. To avoid that, don’t price yourselves out of the marker,” he advised.
Speaking further Demuren said, “You are not increasing your prices of your charges but explain to them that the money you were paying to me is not enough to do what I have been doing for you before COVID-19. But for international airlines you must charge them appropriately for the services you provide for them.”
Demuren, who commended the initiators of AGHAN, added that the coming up of the association for ground handlers was timely especially at a time the COVID-19 is creating serious challenges the aviation industry.
Also speaking the Commissioner/ Chief Executive Officer of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigeria Engr. Akin Olateru, urged the leading ground handling companies in the country; Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO)PLC and Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO)PLC to stop the price war between them, as it would not do any of them any good but to also stop under cutting themselves in the course of doing the business.
He urged them to collaborate to change the face of ground handling by providing quality services comparable to that of any ground handling company in the world.
This, he said should be backed by innovations to change and improve on the way they render their services to airlines and other clients.
Speaking further Olateru asked, “Aircraft washing can our ground handling companies do it?
On pricing, Olateru said that to make substantial progress in the area of pricing, the two leading ground handlers must also synergize to get appropriate pricing for the services they provide to airlines and other clients, adding that there must some innovations in the services the ground handlers carry out
The AIB, Nigeria boss noted that the turnaround time is one area the ground handlers should improve on moving forward, as that would rake in more money for them.