Aviation ground handling firms sign deal to prevent economic sabotage over new charges

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By Tobi Adetunji

The chief executive officers of five ground handling companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to guard against economic sabotage amongst its ranks.

The joint communiqué which  was signed by the Acting Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc. Olumuyiwa Olumekun; CEO, Skyway Aviation Handling Company Plc. Mr. Basil Agboarumi; Director Aviation Handling Service, Mr. Samuel Oluwole; CEO, Butake Resources Limited, Alhaji Bello Salihu; and CEO, Swissport Nigeria, Mr. John Adebanjo.

The communiqué which was signed and addressed to domestic and foreign airlines.

Explaining further details about the communique, the signatories, emphasized that it will enhance sustainable and profitable ground handling rates, while also maintaining the highest standards of safety operations in the sector.

Speaking further  on the development, Chairman, Precision Handling Company, Mr. Samuel Oluwole, said the handling companies had to hold themselves accountable because the “current misnomer affects them all.”

Also commenting on the subject matter, CEO, Skyway Aviation Handling Company Plc. Mr. Basil Agboarumi noted that the firm will put in place necessary checks, sanctions and disciplinary guidelines to guide infringement.

In his words, “We are going to have a technical committee in place that will be like an inspectorate that will be able to monitor the handling companies in the country and severe fine will be meted out by the disciplinary committee on the resolution and any infringement. This will be done after due notification to the NCAA. This will be in place in the interest of everybody.

He stressed further that “the fact  remains that the system was set up is in the interest of all to survive. The undercutting of over 30 years is not leading us anywhere.”

Meanwhile, the CEO, Butake Resources Limited, Alhaji Bello Salihu commended moves by AGHAN for the current price regime to be an equally tinkering way to ensure compliance for all and sundry.

Salihu said, “With this, Nigeria will not continue to lose revenue and the sub-sector will be able to contribute to the growth of the industry.

“We are very grateful to the government who understands our position. By raising the handling charges, you are not doing the handling companies any favour, rather, you are asking them to operate efficiently and effectively in accordance with the standard operating procedure that is published by both ICAO and IATA.”

The Chairman, AGHAN, Mr. Olaniyi Adigun, who described the journey as tough, said the first attempt at correcting the price anomaly was abortive because of the resistance of the strong and formidable airlines.

According to him, “The (resistance) took the body to the National Assembly where all was addressed. A one-way ticket to Abuja now is about N80,000, while we were handling them for between N10,000 and N20,000. Who does that? We needed to increase based on the economic realities on the ground.

“The association is coming out with a watertight commitment that will stipulate the penalties to any of our members that violates the agreement. And like I said, it will be termed as economic sabotage and the chairmen of these companies are the ones signing this communiqué, which will convey the commitment.”

The Vice President, AGHAN, Ahmed Bashir, who spoke in the effective implementation of new charges, said apart from signing the agreement, chairmen of the handling companies would also have to sign the third document that will specify sanctions and legal departments are already working on it to fine-tune the document.