Operators commend FG over new ground handling safety charges

Aviation ground handlers and stakeholders in the aviation industry have commended the federal government through the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA) for approving new safety threshold charges for the ground handling companies, commencing from October 1, 2021 (international carriers) and January 1, 2022 for domestic operators.

This is coming after 35yrs of the last amendment to the handing rates by handlers. The last amended rates were in 1986.

With this approval, the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO), Skyway Aviation Handling Company Plc (SAHCO), Precision Aviation Handling Company Limited (PAHCOL) and Swissport Handling Company, can now charge the same handling rates as their counterparts in other sub-African countries.

Before now, ground-handling companies lamented over low operating charges, which they said could drive many operators out of business.

A document obtained by BusinessDay indicated that NCAA has now approved between $1,500 and $5,000 (passenger and cargo flights) for handlers for a narrow and wide body aircraft, while domestic operators will now pay between 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.

Olaniyi Adigun, Chairman, Aviation Ground Handling Association of Nigeria (AGHAN) commended the minister of Aviation for having the foresight to come to the rescue of the ground handling companies.

Adigun said the federal government saved gro0und handlers from extinction because the low pricing was gradually killing the ground handling sub-sector as income derived from their operations could not sustain them vis-à-vis the current reality on ground.

“Dollars have gone up and these equipment are foreign; 80 percent of our training is foreign and to cap it all, the aviation industry is global. Low control is global anywhere in the world; the same training and requirements for Africa and anywhere in the world. Most of what we do requires dollars and for you to even operate in this sector, you must be certificated, which can only be achieved through training,” he explained.

Read also: Airport ground handlers to earn extra N15bn annually

Ahmed Bashir, Vice Chairman, AGHAN also lauded the efforts of the NCAA for reviewing the current safety threshold handling rates and ensuring compliance with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Safety and other international bodies.

He noted that in order to ensure that the ground handlers are financially stronger and remain as a critical component of the industry, NCAA tried to ensure that the industry doesn’t collapse, adding that without the ground handlers, NCAA will also be out of business.

“You cannot buy modern equipment if you are financially weak, you cannot attract and retain quality manpower if you are economically weak. So, the economic regulation is to ensure that we have a healthy and a vibrant industry,” Bashir added.

Olaniyi Adigun hinted that with the right pricing in handling rates, ground handlers will be able to provide quality, efficient and safe service delivery to its clients and be able to compete with any service provider gradually.

Adigun also assured that with the new pricing rates, ground handlers will be able to acquire modern equipment that can facilitate handling.

He said with the old regime, government and service providers were losing money, and with this, they could not attract quality staff and carry out efficient training.

He said with the new price regime, operators are on the right track.

“The government is getting five percent of our total annual revenue and with more money; we will have improved manpower, create more jobs for teeming Nigerians.

“At it is, we have a lot of unemployed youths, but we are not able to attract them and even the ones that we have, we couldn’t retain them. There will be better service delivery, safer sky and encouragement of more investors to come in,” Adigun said.

The Federal Government through its agencies get five percent from ground handlers’ annual revenue.

Before the new regime, an operation that cost $4,000 elsewhere, was done by ground handlers in Nigeria at $400. At $4,000, the government’s five percent is about $200, while the Nigerian Government gets just $20.

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