The Federal Government through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has approved new Safety Threshold Ground Handling Charges for the ground handling companies, commencing from October 1, 2021, for international carriers and January 1, 2022 for domestic operators, a document made available to The Travel Port, has revealed.
This is just as the Aviation Ground Handling Association of Nigeria (AGHAN) has commended the leadership style of the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirik and the Director General of the NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, who had ensured that everything done in the sector had been geared towards safety.
The association chairman, Olaniyi Adigun and the Vice Chairman, Ahmed Bashir, in separate interviews, commended the Federal government for taking a bold safety step 35 years after the handling charges were amended.
The last amended rates were done in 1986.
With this approval, the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO), Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) and Precision Aviation Handling Company Limited (PAHCOL) and Swissport Handling Company, can now charge the same handling rates as their counterparts in the sub-African countries.
A document obtained by The Travel Port 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, respectively, while for domestic operators will now pay between N20,000 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.
Another circular signed by Nuhu, dated September 6, 2021 with the reference number: NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/315, addressed to “All Airlines And Ground Handling Companies” (foreign and local), attention: Accountable Managers/Country Managers of both domestic and international operators, set different dates for the commencement of the new charges.
The circular with the subject: “Safety Threshold Ground Handling Charges,” said that the new ground handling charges would take effect from October 1, 2021 for international carriers and January 1, 2022 for domestic airline operators.
The circular read in part: “All stakeholders are invited to note that the new ground handling rates for international and domestic operations will become effective on 1st October, 2021 and 1st January, 2022, respectively.
“All stakeholders are directed to ensure full compliance with the safety threshold ground handling charges. Any change to these charges must be done in formal consultation with and approval of NCAA. Please be guided accordingly.”, the circular stated.
Commending both the Minister and the NCAA DG, Adigun said with the old regime, government was losing money, the service provider was losing money, ‘we could not attract quality staff, carry out efficient training. But, right now, we are on the right track’.
“We want to appreciate the Honourable Minister of Aviation for having the foresight to come to the rescue of the ground handling companies. In fact, the federal government saved us from extinction because the low pricing was gradually killing the ground handling sub-sector. Income derived from our operations could not sustain us vis-à-vis the current reality on ground. Dollars have gone up and these equipment are foreign; 80 per cent of our training is foreign and to cap it all, 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 require dollars and for you to even operate in this sector, you must be certificated, which can only be achieved through training.
“With the right pricing in handling rates, we will be able to provide quality, efficient and safe service delivery to our clients. We will be able to compete with any service provider gradually and we will be able to acquire modern equipment that can facilitate handling. To me, it’s a new dawn and a new development that will inject more lives into the industry. I am not surprised at the performance of the minister and the DG NCAA. This is the first time in a long while that the aviation industry is speaking with one voice across board. The minister himself is an aviator; he understands our plights and he knows the right thing to do.”, Adigun said
He added that AGHAN is coming out with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will stipulate disciplinary measures for violators of the directive.
Also speaking, Bashir said the impact of the new rate is that it will be able to sustain the industry, ensure stability and financial stability for the handlers.
“We will be able to recruit more Nigerians and increase the welfare of our staff. It will also ensure that we have better and modern equipment, develop our capacity. We will be able to initiate modern trainings and all these are cost effective. And, some of the training are not even conducted here in Nigeria.
“The Minister of Aviation’s vision has always been a safer sky for Nigeria and to ensure that safety, the ground handlers are integral part of that vision. Everything that you see that we have achieved, we give credit to the minister because the minister has acted as a father to all. It is through his vision that we achieved stability in the industry. He has brought in innovative ideas that helped to transform the industry.
“NCAA has always been there for the interest of the flying public, operators and ground handling companies in the sector. I can say that the agency has effective leadership, led by Capt. Musa Nuhu, its Director-General. The authority wants a stable and an economically viable industry for the industry. NCAA knows that when we are financially stronger, we will be able to sustain the industry, ensure safety and security of the industry. NCAA knows that every part of our business is capital intensive. And as we all know, safety starts and end on ground. You have little or no control actually when the aircraft is in the air.”, he said.