The Association of Ground Handlers of Nigeria (AGHAN) has appealed to the federal government to adjust and waive the annual five per cent concession fee for ground handling companies in the Nigerian aviation industry.
The association also agitated for custom duty waivers for importation of its equipment, just as it commended the government for the recent palliative granted its members.
AGHAN also challenged 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, AGHAN, Mr. Adigun Olaniyi Adigun, in an interview with newsmen in Lagos, said the removal of the five per cent concession fee, especially for the 2020 financial year was necessary for its members to remain in business and also urged government to modify the mode of collection of the annual concession fee.
According to him, the concession fee is calculated based on turnaround, rather than on profit, explaining that the ground handling companies remit to the coffers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) five per cent concession fee annually.
Adigun said for the handlers to survive they require the support of every operator, including the airlines and government agencies.
“There is this five 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. So, we are saying that five per cent should be based on profit, not on turnover.
“Our prayer is that this five 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 pleaded.
Besides, Adigun decried the handling charges by ground handlers and called for an upward review of the charges, describing it as “a peanut.”
According to him, 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.
He challenged the NCAA to intervene in the situation by implementing the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulation on handling charges, warning that safety may be at stake if the charges were not reviewed.
He described the present charges as capital flight against the country and appealed to the government to intervene in the interest of the nation.
“On the international and regional, what we are saying is that there should be a 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,” he added.