… loses N70m to controversial seized Rivers State Bells helicopters
SKYWAY Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL), has revealed that the proposed closure of the Abuja Airport for repairs is laudable but stakeholders were not carried along to know how this will impact on their business as airlines were not the only ones operating in airports.This is just as the handling company said it would lose N70- 80million on the closure especially on manpower, equipment which will cost money as the handling company is not planning to lay anyone off despite the present situation.
Speaking with journalists at its headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, the Managing Director of the ground handling company, Mr. Rizwan Kadri said government got it wrong by not taking everybody along.
Kadri said,”Government is taking the right step as the repair of the Abuja Airport is long overdue however, they have gone about it wrong as no stakeholder was carried along and that is why no foreign airline is flying into Kaduna.”
“We will lose a lot owing to this closure, if we make N70-N80million at Abuja who will give us that. We will need to shift manpower, equipment to Kaduna and we will continue to pay them salaries if they stay in Abuja although not doing anything for six weeks. We hope it lasts just six weeks but the airlines plan a return after the six weeks.”
On the recession, Kadri said that the company like many others in the country is feeling the impact of the economic recession with its challenges.
According to Kadri, the major issue was the dollar constraint that led to airlines which is their primary business to pull out or reduce operations which also affected its business.
“ A big chunk of our revenue is from airlines, if airlines pull out it dwindles our revenue,” he said.
He further stated that 2016 despite the inherent challenges was a fair year with regards the handling company’s business but expects a better 2017 as it gears up to add extra innovation to boost its business.
The SAHCOL boss also revealed that it is indebted between N60 to N70 million due to the seized Bells Helicopters belonging to Rivers State Government and is at loss on who is to pay the debt.
The company said that the money was part of the funds, which should have been paid by the importers of the helicopters, adding that it also included demurrage charges.
He explained that the helicopters were in its import warehouse at the airport for two years.
He added: “We have nothing to do with the helicopters. Our only connection with the helicopters is that the importers brought them into our warehouse and as a company and that is our duty. As it is now, we don’t know who to hold responsible for the importation of the aircraft.”
It would be recalled that Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) ON January 27, 2017 announced the seizure of two Bell civil models Bell Helicopters imported into the country “by unknown importers.”
The two Bell Helicopters were handed over to the Nigerian Air Force for failure by “the unknown importers to produce end-user certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) in contravention of Section 36 ( 2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act .”
Customs Area Controller, Frank Allanah had disclosed that the duty paid value of the two helicopters and other accessories was over N9,757,135,240.86.
He said the helicopters were flown in as a consignment with Airway Bill Number 17232444403 into the country through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
The choppers he said were detained at SAHCOL shed pending fulfillment of all legal requirements for the importation.
He said upon examination, the consignment was found to contain two civil models 412 EP of serial numbers 36608 and 36606 Bell Helicopters respectively , in standard configuration and 23 packages said to contain their accessories weighing eleven thousand four hundred and seventy-five kilogrammes ( 11,075 kg).
But, the Rivers State Government 24hours later came out to claim the ownership of the aircraft.
It was discovered that the two Bell Helicopters were imported by Rivers State Government in the twilight of the Amaechi Administration.