Stakeholders in the aviation industry have counselled the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (nahco aviance), Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) and Aviation Handling Services (AHS) to stop price war and find the right pricing for their services instead.
The stakeholders made the call at a recent webinar conferenceorganised by the Association of Aviation Ground Handlers (AGHAN) with the theme ‘The Impact of COVID -19 on the Nigerian aviation ground handling industry: Safety, rates, regulation.’
Speaking at the event former director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren called on the ground handling companies to consider price adjustment instead of price increase in order to survive the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also emphasised that foreign airlines should pay the dollar equivalent for ground handling services so that the operators could survive.
In his contribution, the director of air transport regulation at the NCAA, Group Capt. Edem Oyo-Ita (retd) said he could not remember the last time ground handlers adjusted their fees while airlines and other service providers review their prices periodically.
He enjoined the handling firms to set rules and agree on minimum ground handling rates that would be domesticated with NCAA that will in turn monitor and ensure compliance.
Similarly, the commissioner and chief executive officer of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Mr. Akin Olateru, enjoined AGHAN to stop the price war and called on them to synergise to get appropriate pricing for their services.
The AIB chief also encouraged them to collaborate more and improve on their service delivery to airlines and other clients so as to reduce 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.
The group managing director and chief executive officer of nacho aviance), Mrs. Olatokunbo Fagbemi, in her remarks, called on all stakeholders to work together for the survival of the industry.
“The aviation industry is the worst hit by the pandemic, and by extension, the ground handling companies,” said adding 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,” she said.
She added: “We are not charging appropriately, even pre-COVID-19. Let’s get what is due to us so we can survive. 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.”
For his part, the managing director and chief executive officer of SAHCO, Mr. Basil Agboarumi said the aviation industry is one and enjoined ground handlers to be united like the airlines.
“The birth of AGHAN is a thing of joy and it has come to stay” he said.
He said unlike the situation in some other countries, ground handling charges in Nigeria are low.
“For ground handlers to provide safe, speedy and efficient services there is 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’’.
Earlier in his remarks, the chairman of AGHAN and executive director, sales and marketing of SAHCO, Mr. Olaniyi Adigun, explained that the association was created to represent, advocate policies and regulation for the overall interest of the members of the association.
He stated further that the creation of AGHAN will foster an enabling environment to build and reach a consensus on critical aviation ground handling matters
In the same vein, AGHAN’s deputy chairman and chief operations officer of nacho aviance, Mr. Herbert Odika, 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.
He made a case for the creation of a base-rate for ground handling and appealed that safety should never be compromised.