The Group Managing Director of Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Aviance PLC, Mrs. Olatokunbo Fagbemi and the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO)PLC, the leading handlers in the country, have stated that they were ready for international flights anytime the Federal Government lift suspension on the operation.
Recalled that the Federal Government issued a ban on all international flights effective from March 23, 2020, except for emergency and essential flights for an initial period of time.
This is just as they revealed that the debt owed ground handling companies by airlines is huge.
Both spoke with one voice for the first time after over four decades of operating in separate ways at the inaugural edition of the Association of Aviation Ground Handlers (AGHAN) Zoom virtual conference with the theme, “Impact of COVID-19 on Nigerian Aviation Ground Handling Industry: Safety, Rate, Regulations” recently.
Fagbemi, who was the first to speak, stated that the ground handlers were ready for international fights any time the Federal Government lift the restrictions it imposed on the international operations, as according to her everything has been put in place for the purpose.
According to her, “we are waiting for the Federal Government to lift the restrictions on international operations. We are more than ready for international flights. We have done all the training for our staff and we are good to go”.
On his part, Agboarumi like Fagbemi also stated that SAHCO was ready anytime the Federal Government lift the restrictions on international operations.
According to him, SAHCO is only waiting for government to give directives and that ground handling operations would start immediately.
On why there is still delay at the check-in counters at Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, an issue raised by the President of Aviation Round Table(ART), Elder Gbenga Olowo, during the virtual conference, Fagbemi said that the airport has common user system, which according to her is under the control of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) and that the ground handling companies does not have control over it.
She however stated NAHCO was ready to invest in technology that would not only make their jobs easier but that would also deliver quality services to its clients.
“However, we will not shy away from investing in technology that will boost our service delivery.”
This position was further corroborated by the Chief Executive Officer of Skyway, who in his submission said, “It is under the control of FAAN. We don’t have control over the ticketing counters.”
Earlier, the former Managing Director of NAHCO Aviance PLC, Mr. Idris Yakubu, said that he noticed that everybody seems to be talking about palliatives for airline operators and that nobody has mentioned palliatives for ground handling companies in the scheme of things.
He urged Fagbemi and Agboarumi to ensure ground handlers are part of the Federal Government palliatives in view of the fact that the sub-sector is also affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
“The two CEOs should please look for a way to ensure that ground handing companies benefit from any palliatives that will be given to the aviation industry by the Federal Government,” Yakubu advised.
Responding, the SAHCO boss said that ground handlers just like airlines were affected and still being affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and that they are also waiting for palliatives from the Federal Government.
In his words, “We are aware that ground handlers are also being considered for palliatives.”
On debt owed the ground handlers by airlines, the two leading ground handling companies stated that the amount owed them by airlines was huge but tactically refused to disclose the amount and the hugeness of the debt.
They however stated that they would require the help of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA) to resolve the issue.
“The debt is huge,” the CEOs said.