…Advises Them To Charge Int’l Airlines Appropriately, Meet With Domestic airline
…As Olateru Urges NAHCO, SAHCO To Improve On Turnaround Time, Synergise
As Coronavirus continues to devastate all sectors of the Nigerian economy including aviation, the former Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren has advised ground handling companies in the country not to price themselves out of the market by increasing their charges
This is just as he also urged them to meet especially with the domestic airlines even if they want to increase their charges to explain to them why they can no longer get the services they were rendering pre-COVID-19, the same amount now that the pandemic is biting harder .
Demuren, who was one of the panelists, spoke at the maiden edition of the Association of Aviation Ground Handlers (AGHAN) Zoom virtual conference with the theme, “Impact of COVID-19 on Nigerian Aviation Ground Handling Industry: Safety, Rate, Regulations” yesterday.
Demuren, who commended the initiators of AGHAN, added that the coming up of the association for ground handlers was timely especially at a time the COVID-19 is creating serious challenges the aviation industry.
He stated that with the coming on stream of AGHAN, the era of airlines incurring debts in ground handling company A and move to ground handler B to continue its operations without paying company A for the services rendered are over, as the ground handlers will now be more organised compared to before.
Though, he acknowledged that COVID-19 is having a devastating effect on ground handlers just like any other aspect of aviation, he however advised the association to meet with domestic airlines operators in the country to explain why their charges would be adjusted and that in that way the airlines would cooperate with them.
He said that the essence is for the ground handlers to continue to enjoy patronage and that it is only when the domestic airlines are operating that the ground handling companies would have people to deal with.
He stated that having equipment at various airports is not the problem but that the challenge is how many flights are operated from these airports.
He added that as it is today people are not flying becuase of COVID-19.
“If the airlines cannot survive, there will be no ground handlers because people are not flying .We need to balance it.
“We have to be very careful, the regulation gives the domestic airline the right to handle themselves or do ground handling. To avoid that, don’t price yourselves out of the marker,” he advised.
Speaking further Demuren said, “You are not increasing your prices of your charges but explain to them that the money you were paying to me is not enough to do what I have been doing for you before COVID-19. But for international airlines you must charge them appropriately for the services you provide for them.”
The former NCAA boss revealed that the huge payment for ground handling services abroad was a major problem for some of Nigeria’s domestic airlines that made efforts to operate international flights.
To buttress his point, Demuren mentioned Air Peace, Arik Air and Med-View Airlines as some Nigeria’s domestic carriers that have experienced the very high ground handling charges, as according to him ‘they pay a lot.
He added that if the international airlines pay in Naira, they should pay the Dollar equivalent as ground handling charges but he however submitted that airlines must pay their bills be they local or international airlines for the ground handlers to remain afloat.
Also speaking the Commissioner/ Chief Executive Officer of Accident Investigation Bureau(AIB),Nigeria Engr. Akin Olateru, urged the leading ground handling companies in the country; Skyway Aviation Handling Company(SAHCO)PLC and Nigerian Aviation Handling Company(NAHCO)PLC to collaborate to change the face of ground handling by providing quality services comparable to that of any ground handling company in the world.
This, he said should be backed by innovations to change and improve on the way they render their services to airlines and other clients.
Speaking further Olateru asked, “Aircraft washing, can our ground handling companies do it ?
On pricing, Olateru said that to make substantial progress in the area of pricing, the two leading ground handlers must also synergise to get appropriate pricing for the services they provide to airlines and other clients, adding that there must some innovations in the services the ground handlers carry out
The AIB, Nigeria boss noted that the turnaround time is one area the ground handlers should improve on moving forward, as that would rake in more money for them.
He urged them not only to stop the price war between them, as it would not do any of them any good but to also stop under cutting themselves in the course of doing the business.
He commended those behind the creation of AGHAN for their foresight, as according to him the advent of the association was timely.