Two years on, ground handling companies under the aegis of Aviation Ground Handlers Association of Nigeria (AGHAN) demand urgent government intervention and propose significant rate increases to sustain operations.

Ground handlers hiked tariffs in March 1, 2022 but now say they face imminent collapse without immediate government intervention

AGHAN suggests a drastic tariff hike: N400,000 for Boeing 737, N250,000 for CRJ or Embraer, and N150,000 for Dash 8 planes.

Currently, the rates are N70,000 for B737, N50,000 for CRJ and Embraer, while Dash 8 is handled at N25,000 per flight or their equivalents. While rates for narrow and wide body aircraft on international routes are between $1,500 and $5,000 (passenger and cargo flights).

Before the last review, March 1, 2022, international airlines were still paying as low as $400 to handle narrow body aircraft, while they were charged between $1,000 and $1,200 for wide body aircraft.

However, after the last review of March 1, 2022 AGHAN now targets April 1, 2024, for the revised rates’ implementation, pending Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) approval.

It emphasises the urgency, urging the Federal Government’s swift intervention to avert industry-wide catastrophe.

Breaking down their current situation, Alhaji Bello Salihu, the Managing Director, Butake Handling Company Ltd,lamented that the cost of doing business.

He stressed that the cost of diesel had risen from about N700 less than a year ago to about N1,700 in the northern parts of the country, without any attendant increase in rates charged by the handlers.

He says a dialogue between AON and ground handling companies is crucial as both parties rely on each other’s services. He says suffocation for one leads to immediate flight disruptions and missed connections. Without proper machinery, flight delays occur, hindering passenger connections and economic activities.

Also wading in, Prince Saheed Lasisi, Group Executive Director of NAHCO Plc, noted that a slight handling rate increase wouldn’t affect airfares.

He attributed rising costs to the weakened naira and global economic challenges, not airline operations. Lasisi clarified that international rates, billed in dollars, wouldn’t change.

However, domestic operators, facing low rates, still require the same resources. He emphasized the need to support domestic operators due to frequency and local content. Lasisi advocated for customs duty waivers to alleviate financial burdens on handling companies.

Mrs. Adenike Aboderin, Managing Director of SAHCO Plc, refuted claims that handling rate increases would deter passengers or hike airfares.

Aboderin also lamented the continuous escalating cost of doing business in the country which had further put pressure on ground handling companies stressing that this prompted the handlers to take difficult decisions about their pricing.

Aboderin emphasized the indispensable role of ground handlers in efficient airline operations, advocating for tax incentives, subsidies, and infrastructure improvements.

She added: “As a ground handler, our goal is to provide our customers with the best possible service at a fair price. We have a lot of costs associated with providing our services, including labour costs, equipment costs, and overhead expenses. We strive to keep our rates as low as possible, while still providing the quality of service that our customers expect. We provide a vital service to the aviation industry.

“We understand that the cost of flying is a concern for many people, but we believe that our services are worth the price.”

Aboderin further advocated tax incentives or subsidies to ground handlers and low interest rates on loan facilities, arguing that this would help them to offset the costs of doing business.

She also added that investment in infrastructure improvements, such as new or upgraded facilities at the airports would also make it easierf or ground handlers to do their jobs.



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