FOLLOWING approval granted by the Nigerian Civil international airlines and March 1, 2022 (for local) operators, Chief Executives of five ground handling companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to guard against economic sabotage amongst its ranks.
The joint communiqué was signed by Olumuyiwa Olumekun; the Ag. CEO, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc; Mr. Basil Agboarumi, CEO, Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) Plc, Mr. Samuel Oluwole, Director Aviation Handling Service (AHS), Alahji Bello Salihu; CEO, Butake Resources Ltd (BRL) and Mr. John Adebanjo, the CEO, Swissport Nigeria, dated December 14, 2021 to the domestic and foreign airlines.
The communiqué , according to the signatories, will enable sustainable and profitable ground handling rates, while also maintaining the highest standards of safety operations in the sector in Nigeria.
Speaking on the development, Mr. Samuel Oluwole, Chairman, Precision Handling Company said, the handling companies have to hold themselves accountable because the current misnomer affects them all.
He says,” So, we are going to have a technical committee in place that will be like an inspectorate that will be able to monitor the handling companies in the country and severe fine will be meted out by the disciplinary committee on the resolution and any infringement. This will be done after due notification to the NCAA. This will be in place in the interest of everybody.
“The fact is that the system we have set up is in the interest of all to survive. The undercutting of over 30 years is not leading us anywhere, ” he said.
Also speaking, Alhaji Bello Salihu, CEO, Butake Handling Company commended moves by AGHAN to being the current price regime to be and equally tinkering a way to ensure compliance for all and sundry.
Salihu said the safety threshold was not just about the handling companies, but also about the safety and security of the country stressing that with appropriate charges, safety and security will better be enhanced.
He said, “With this, Nigeria will not continue to lose revenues and the sub-sector will be able to contribute to the growth of the industry.
“We are very grateful to the government who understand our position. By raising the handling charges, you are not doing the handling companies any favour, rather, you are asking them to operate efficiently and effectively in accordance to the standard operation procedure that is published by both ICAO and IATA. We are a category One country in terms of safety and security. If handling companies are not operating to the standards, do you think we can retain the Cateory One Status? We cannot.
Mr. Olaniyi Adigun, Chairman, AGHAN who described the journey as tough said the first attempt at correcting the price anomaly was abortive because of the resistance of the strong and formidable airlines.
He said, “This ( resistance) took us to the National Assembly where all was addressed. A one way ticket to Abuja now is about N80,000, while we were handling them for between N10,000 and N20,000. Who does that? We needed to increase based on the economic realities on ground.
“The association is coming out with a watertight commitment that will stipulate the penalties to any of our members that violates the agreement. And like I said, it will be termed as economic sabotage and the chairmen of these companies are the ones signing this communiqué, which will convey the commitment.”He said.
Vice President, AGHAN, Ahmed Bashir, who spoke in the effective implementation of new charges said apart from signing the agreement, chairmen of the handling companies will also have to sign the third document that will specify sanction and legal departments are already working on it to fine tune the document.
He evsaud, “Once they sign, the copies of the resolution, communiqué and the sanction we will make copies available to NCAA, Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC). So, if there is any violator, these documents will be presented in the competent court of law. This is what we are doing to avoid any sabotage to ensure we get the cooperation of all.
The new handling rates are between $1,500 and $5,000 (passenger and cargo flights) for narrow and wide body aircraft on international routes, respectively, while for domestic operators it was upped to N25,000 and N70,000, depending on the aircraft type
Narrow body aircraft include Boeing B737, Airbus A320, ER 135 and ATR, while wide body aircraft are B767, A330, B777, B747 and B787.
Before the current approval, the last time handling rates were reviewed in Nigeria was in 1986 and the 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.