NIGERIA: Aviation Ground Handling Companies Told To Stop The Price War

Nigeria’s leading Aviation Ground Handling companies; Aviation Handling Services (AHS), Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (Nahco Aviance) and the Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) Plc have been called upon by stakeholders to stop the price war and consider price adjustment, instead of increase in order to survive the effects of the current pandemic, COVID-19.

The call was made by Harold Demuren,A former Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) during a webinar entitled “The Impact of COVID -19 on the Nigerian Aviation Ground Handling Industry: Safety, Rates, Regulation”, organised by the Association of Aviation Ground Handlers (AGHAN). Demuren, who was one of the lead speakers, suggested that foreign airlines should be made to pay the dollar equivalent for ground handling services rendered to it.

In his opening remarks, Olaniyi Adigun, Chairman of AGHAN and Executive Director, Sales and Marketing of SAHCO Plc said the creation of AGHAN is meant to foster an enabling environment to build and reach a consensus on critical aviation ground handling matters.

Olatokunbo Fagbemi, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer NAHCO Plc, called on stakeholders to work together for the survival of the industry.According to her, ‘the aviation industry is the worst hit by the pandemic, and by extension, the ground handling companies.’She said that the time has come for stakeholders to fashion out a survival strategy, get the buy in and support of the regulators and above all seek and push for government interventions.

‘We are not charging appropriately, even pre-COVID-19. Let’s get what is due to us so we can survive, and we need the help of everybody to grow, we shouldn’t engage in destruction of wealth by the introduction of self-handling, instead, appropriate pricing should be implemented,’ she said.

The Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Akin Olateru, said AGHAN should stop the price war, urging SAHCO and NAHCO to synergize and get appropriate pricing for the services they provide.He said ground handlers should improve on their service delivery by reducing turnaround time for carriers while also applying new innovations that will break the operational silos from the traditional primary services to innovative secondary and tertiary services.

Edem Oyo-Ita, the Director of Air Transport Regulation of NCAA, Group Captain (retd) who spoke at the webinar said he cannot remember the last time Ground Handlers adjusted their price despite the fact airlines and other service providers adjusted their prices periodically.

He enjoined AGHAN to set ground rules and agree on minimum ground handling rates that would be domesticated with NCAA who will in turn monitor and ensure compliance.

The Managing  Director of SAHCO, Basil Agboarumi, said that the aviation industry urged ground handlers to be united just like the airlines are and that the best way to go is to collaborate.He reiterated that in comparison to other countries, ground handling charges in Nigeria is very low.

‘For ground handlers to provide safe, speedy and efficient services there is a need for the right pricing. It is wrong for Nigeria to charge naira to service a foreign airline; the time has come for right pricing so that ground handlers can survive.’

Speaking also, Herbert Odika, the Deputy Chairman of AGHAN, and Chief Operations Officer of NAHCO Plc, in his closing remarks said the coming of AGHAN is a major milestone that will change the face of ground handling in Nigeria.

He appealed to the regulators and the government to provide an enabling environment for all operators at the various airports across the country by improving on the facilities to reduce overhead cost and make business more attractive.

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