After an initial delay, the Federal Government through the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has finally approved a discount of 25 percent on new handling charges as requested by the ground handling companies fuelling concerns of a rise in ticket prices.
To this end, the ground handling operators have signed a memorandum for the commencement of new safety handling threshold charges on January 1, 2022.
This is coming after consultations with the NCAA, the National Assembly and other relevant stakeholders within the aviation industry.
Recall that the House of Representatives had earlier advised the ground handlers to shelve the implementation, expressing concern that the new rate would eventually be transferred to the passengers as it would likely reflect in airfare
Daily Trust reports that the NCAA had approved new handling rates to take effect in October this year for international airlines and January 1, 2022 for the domestic carriers before the National Assembly intervened following a petition from airlines.
But three months after, the Chairmen and the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the five handling companies in Nigeria have finally signed a joint agreement ahead of the take-off of the new rate.
A communiqué by the five CEOs indicated that the new handling rates are between $1,500 and $5,000 (passenger and cargo flights) for narrow and wide body aircraft on international routes, respectively, while for domestic operators’ rate is pegged at N25,000 and N70,000, depending on the aircraft type.
“In view of the foregoing, kindly find attached the new revised ground handling rates for our operations. The commencement date for these new revised rates is as follows:
“International/regional operations; effective January 1, 2022 and domestic operations; effective March 1, 2022.”
The new rate is coming 36 years after the last review was carried out.
Before the new rate, international airlines were paying as low as $400 to handle narrow-body aircraft, while they were charged between $1,000 and $1,200 for wide-body aircraft.
This was said to be the lowest in Africa fueling agitation by the handling operators to bring the rate at par with international standards.
Chairman of the Association of Ground Handlers of Nigeria (AGHAN), Mr. Olaniyi Adigun said the operators needed to increase the rates based on the economic realities on ground.
He commended the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and the NCAA DG, Capt. Musa Nuhu for the approval.
“To us, it is a win-win situation for us all, including the airlines,” he said, adding that the association is setting up machinery to monitor compliance.
Also, CEO of Butake Handling Firm, Alhaji Bello Salihu, said, “All the five of us unanimously agreed to apply sanctions for whosoever that violates the agreement.
“Sanction will be applied and NCAA will be involved in punishing any recalcitrant member of AGHAN that violates the agreement. Anyone that does that, we are going to report such to the NCAA.”