After 35 years: FG approves new safety threshold handling charges

Following the controversy trailing the poor handling charges amongst the handling companies in Nigeria there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) through the Ministry of Aviation has approved a new safety threshold charges for the handling companies.

Prior to the latest development, stakeholders had faulted the handling charges in Nigeria which was described as the poorest rate in the region.

Before the approval for the new charges, Nigeria was charging $400 for an operation that cost $4,000 elsewhere despite the disparity between the Naira and foreign currencies.

The breaking news has indicated that the NCAA has now approved between $1,500 and $5,000 (passenger and cargo flights) for handlers for a narrow and wide body aircraft, respectively, while domestic operators will now pay between N20,000 and N70,000, depending on the aircraft type.

Narrow body aircraft include Boeing B737, Airbus A320, ER 135 and ATR, while wide body aircraft are B767, A330, B777, B747 and B787.

A circular signed by the NCAA DG, Captain Musa Nuhu, dated September 6, 2021 with the reference number: NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/315, addressed to “All Airlines And Ground Handling Companies” (foreign and local), attention: Accountable Managers/Country Managers of both domestic and international operators, set different dates for the commencement of the new charges.

The circular with the subject: “Safety Threshold Ground Handling Charges,” said that the new ground handling charges would take effect from October 1, 2021 for international carriers and January 1, 2022 for domestic airline operators.

Commending the minister of aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika  for pushing for the review of the obsolete charges, Chairman of Aviation Ground Handlers Association of Nigeria (AGHAN), Mr Olaniyi Adigun, he attributed the approval for new charges to the determination of the minister to rescue the ground handlers for financial predicaments thrown at them by the ridiculous charges,

‘We want to appreciate the Honourable Minister of Aviation for having the foresight to come to the rescue of the ground handling companies. In fact, the federal government saved us from extinction because the low pricing was gradually killing the ground handling sub-sector. Income derived from our operations could not sustain us vis-à-vis the current reality on ground. Dollars have gone up and these equipment are foreign; 80 per cent of our training is foreign and to cap it all, aviation industry is global. Low control is global anywhere in the world; the same training and requirements for Africa and anywhere in the world. Most of what we do require dollars and for you to even operate in this sector, you must be certificated, which can only be achieved through training.

‘With the right pricing in handling rates, we will be able to provide quality, efficient and safe service delivery to our clients. We will be able to compete with any service provider gradually and we will be able to acquire modern equipment that can facilitate handling. To me, it’s a new dawn and a new development that will inject more lives into the industry.’

For the Vice Chairman of AGHAN, Mr. Ahmed Bashir, Vice Chairman, AGHAN; “We want to thank the managements of the ground handling companies who supported and trusted us to be able to go this far. Also, we want to laud the various critical stakeholders and professionals in the industry who actually craved for this safety threshold handling charges. For every project you want to embark upon, you need to get the strategy right.

Also, the regulator, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for reviewing the current safety threshold handling rates and ensure compliance with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Civil Aviation Organiusation (ICAO) Safety and other international bodies. NCAA has always been there for the interest of the flying public, operators and ground handling companies in the sector. I can say that the NCAA  has effective leadership, led by Captain Musa Nuhu, its Director-General. The authority wants a stable and an economically viable industry for the industry. NCAA knows that when we are financially stronger, we will be able to sustain the industry, ensure safety  and security of the industry. NCAA knows that every part of our business is capital intensive. And as we all know, safety starts and end on ground. You have little or no control actually when the aircraft is in the air.”

With the new approval, NAHCO SAHCO, PAHCOL and Swissport Handling Company can now charge the same handling rates as their counterparts in the sub-African countries.


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