AVIATION Ground Handling Association of Nigeria (AGHAN) Chairman, Mr. Olaniyo Adigun has said that the current travails of the major ground handling companies in present day can be traced to their formative years as there was no clear cut regulation apart from just licensing players in the sector.
This is just as he said that AGHAN was established to negotiate with the Federal Government (NCAA) and other stakeholders to put necessary regulations and policies to give ground handling companies a rebirth.
Adigun made these known at the 25th League Of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) held at the Sheraton Hotels, Ikeja Lagos with theme: ‘Nigeria’s Aviation Industry: Management, Policy and Regulation.’
According to Adigun, for handlers to thrive in a regulated environment, extant Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation (NCAR) Act should be expanded so it can discharge certain responsibilities
“As it is presently composed, the NCAR is lopsided and does not properly represent the entire aviation industry in the country. The power of NCAA is limited and cannot discharge some functions as a regulator. Though, we know that the NCAR is presently before the National Assembly as an Executive Bill, we want to appeal to the National Assembly to expedite action on its passage. An improved aviation industry is a plus to the ground handling sub-sector.
Earlier he explained that Skypower Aviation Handing Company Limited (SAHCOL) and Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Limited (NAHCO) were part of eternal bodies that determined everything to do with them.
He said SAHCOL was part of the Ground Operations Department of the defunct Nigeria Airways while NAHCO was established by five (5) foreign airlines with the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) representing the interest of the Government
According to him, from the fall out of the historical background, management of NAHCO then rested on the shoulders of these founding airlines (Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Sabena and British Airways) which affected their decision including their pricing likewise, SAHCOL before its privatization.
He said,” This indicates that the managements of both NAHCOPLC and SAHCOPLC have been greatly influenced by their founding fathers and which may not be at all times in the interest of the Ground Handlers. During this period, the Ground Handlers were totally dependent because they could not determine their handling rates, company polices, salaries, remuneration etc.”
He stated that after the privatization of both Ground Handling Companies their managements became more interested in the effective utilization of resources, manpower and equipment to generate profit and sustain the continuity but said there was no clear cut policy regarding the arm of the sector.
Adigun said,” From the formation of these Ground Handling companies, one may not be wrong to say that there is no clear cut regulation or policies regarding this sector of aviation by the Federal Government.
“The only visible oversight function of the NCAA is the licensing of these Ground Handling Companies and the high Capital Intensive entry point coupled with its high technical know-how.
He said it was due to this lack of regulation, that the now five(5) Ground Handlers came together to form an association called Aviation Ground Handling Association of Nigeria (AGHAN) with the aim of working with the Federal Government through NCAA to set up Operating Standards, safety and security standards.
Other aims are to establish minimum Handling rates within the sector, encouraging an enabling environment to attract Capital Inflow into the sector through local and foreign investors as well as to encourage healthy competition among the players without compromising safety, security and the economic interest of the nation.