…Says Handling Charges By Ground Handlers ‘Peanut’
…Asks NCAA To Intervene By Implementing ICAO Regulation
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the global aviation industry ,Nigeria inclusive and with no end in sight, the Association of Ground Handlers of Nigeria (AGHAN) has appealed to the Federal Government to waive the annual 5 per cent concession fee for ground handling companies in the country .
This is just as the body also urged the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) to give the handlers waivers for importation of its equipment.
Also, AGHAN is challenging the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to regulate ground handling charges, warning that safety may be compromised if the right policy by the regulatory agency was not put in place.
The Chairman of AGHAN, Mr. Adigun Olaniyi Adigun,made the appeal in an interview in Lagos.
He contended that waiving for the ground handlers the 5 per cent concession fee, especially for 2021 financial year was necessary for its members to remain in business, appealing to the Federal Government to modify the mode of collection of the annual concession fee.
Speaking further, Adigun informed that the concession fee is calculated based on turnaround, rather than on profit and that ground handlers in the country remit to the coffers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) 5 per cent concession fee annually.
The AGHAN Chairman said that the handlers require the support of every operator, including the airlines and government agencies instead of strangulating them out of business.
According to him, “There is this 5 per cent concession fee, which we usually pay to FAAN; this is based on our turnaround. Though, there have been some issues on this because FAAN is asking for turnover, which includes money collected and the ones still unremitted. We are saying that 5 per cent should be based on profit, not on turnover.”
He continued, “Our prayer is that this 5 per cent concession fee should be waived for the 2020 financial year. 2020 was tough and there was no work available and the little we had last year was to sustain our staff. Though, the palliative is good, but how far can that go in the life of the Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) Plc or the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc for instance? Whatever we got individually, is not even enough as a monthly wage for the two companies. So, we are asking for the waiver for that 2020.”
He described the handling charges by the ground handlers companies as peanut, calling for an upward review.
He explained that on the domestic scene, the handlers charge only a N30,000 turnaround fee, while on the international scene, its charges vary from $200 to $1000, depending on the aircraft brand and capacity.
Adigun urged the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA)to intervene in the matter by implementing the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulation on handling charges, pointing out that safety may be compromised if the charges were not reviewed.
“On the international and regional, what we are saying is that there should be fair play in the system. Some of our airlines are operating regional and international operations. How much are they paying on those routes? But, because of the unhealthy competition then, the airlines seized the advantage. Unfortunately, the major ground handling companies came out from airlines. For instance, SAHCO was an offshoot of the defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways and NAHCO too was from British Airways, Lufthansa and others.
“What we are saying is that for international flights, there is a Federal Government approved rate as was done in the 1980s, which varies from $2,000 and N3,000, depending on the aircraft brand. What we want is the implementation of this rate, but the government is saying it has to be determined by the law of demand and supply, which is not so anywhere in the world.
“We are asking NCAA to regulate this aspect of the industry, just as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is doing in the financial sector and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in the telecommunication industry. This is to ensure that no one is taking undue advantage of the weak structure we have on ground.”
On the recent palliative extended to the ground handling companies, the AGHAN boss , commended the Aviation Ministry but quickly added that the ground handlers still need more palliatives from the Federal Government to continue to remain in business.