RIVALRY between the major handling companies in the country has led to underpricing of the services they render to airlines and other clientele and this has affected the growth of the business adversely.Acting Managing Director of SAHCOL, Basil Agboarumi made this known earlier today as guests to the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) interactive Gateway Forum where he said ground handlers were charging below par due to the unnecessary price war.
He further said that businesses al over were looking for common grounds to pull resources as it is done in other climes while also calling for regulation to standardize pricing of the services rendered.
Agboarumi said,”Cooperation is for the best of the industry, we as a company we have identified cooperation as the tonic to build the industry. We will continue to do our best, take the right step and initiative to ensure that what can give us the kind of aviation that we desire in the future is done. there must come to a point whereby we will definitely need ourselves.”
“In other parts of the world, ground handling companies are pooling resources together, it is for us to get to that stage of maturity. Even, airlines are cooperating now. When you have airlines in various parts of the world, they complement each other in passenger and cargo operations. We will have better aviation industry once we begin to look at the industry from that perspective,” he added.
On the price war currently rocking the handling companies, he said for years despite the increase of the dollar to Naira; the handling rates have remained the same despite that airlines are currently changing their fares to adjust to trend.
He added,”Let’s look at the banking industry for instance; there is a regulator that regulates their activities. For instance, the handling rates we pay in Nigeria has not changed over the years despite the fall in naira to dollars and other major currencies. The airlines have consistently change their fares, but we have not done that for so many years. We still operate with the same tariff that we have been operating up to the time naira was N165 to a dollar and regrettably today, the rate has grown more than double.”
“What it costs us to buy a ground handling equipment today has grown astronomically. It is not that the cost has changed, but whereby we were spending one naira to buy a ground handling equipment before, by the time we source for foreign exchange, you will see that it has gone to about N3. That’s the situation we have found ourselves. But, the airlines still pay the same amount of money they have been paying us even before then.”
He called on government to support handling companies the way they have supported airlines stressing that the zero-tariff regime should be extended to handling companies too.