The Association of Ground Handlers of Nigeria (AGHAN) is calling on the Federal Government to adjust and waive the annual five per cent concession fee for ground handling companies in the country’s aviation sector.
Making this call, the Chairman of AGHAN, Mr Olaniyi Adigun, said the removal of the five per cent concession fee, especially for 2020 financial year became imperative for the survival of the AGHAN members.
Besides making case for the adjustment and removal of five per cent concession fee, the ground handlers equally called for custom duty waivers for the importation of its equipment.
AGHAN used the opportunity to challenge 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.
Calling for the modification of the mode of collection of the annual concession fee, the AGHAN Chairman argued that the concession fee was calculated based on turnaround, rather than on profit.
The five per cent fee represents the concession level the ground handling companies pay to the coffers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) yearly.
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Adigun who declared that rather than frustrate the ground handlers out of business that the handlers required the support of every operator, including the airlines and government agencies, added: “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 yet to be remitted. 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.”
Adigun used the occasion to decry the handling charges by ground handlers and called which he described as peanuts, hence calling for an upward review of the charges.
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.
Describing the present charges as capital flight against the country while he appealed to the government to intervene in the interest of the nation, Afigun stated: “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, 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, which is not so anywhere in the world.
“We are asking NCAA to regulate this aspect of the industry, just as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is doing in the financial sector and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in the telecommunication industry. This is to ensure that no one is taking undue advantage of the weak structure we have on the ground.”
He seized the opportunity to commend the government for the recent palliative granted its members.
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