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NASS halts NCAA’s new rates on ground handling charges

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation led by Nnolim Nnaji has advised that the new aircraft ground-handling rate of $3,900 be put on hold till after the next meeting with the stakeholders scheduled for this week Wednesday, 0ctober 6, 2021 for all parties to come to agreement.

The new rate which shot up the handling rate of jumbo aircraft of the size of Boeing 777 series to over 1,000 percent was to take effect from Friday October 1.The current rate for the same aircraft type is $330.

Airline Operators of Nigeria, (AON) and the Airline Operators” Council, (AOC) which are the umbrella bodies for local and foreign airlines had earlier petitioned the committee for its intervention over the new rate which they considered as cut throat.

This prompted the house of representatives committee on aviation to summon the director-general of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA)  Musa Nuhu, a flight captain and the managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, ((FAAN) Rabiu Yadudu who asked to bring along with the Association of Aircraft Grand Handlers of Nigeria, (AGHAN) and the International Air Transport Association, (IATA) for a meeting with the committee on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 to explain the rationale for the astronomical increase.

Chairman of the committee in his opening remarks stressed that the committee was concerned that the new rate would eventually be transferred to the end users, that is the passengers as it would likely reflect in air fare. He argued that, the gap between the old rate and new rate he noted, “appears too high and does not support any economic logic and economy of scale.

After deliberations on the submissions by all parties, the committee unanimously agreed that the meeting be adjourned till Wednesday, October 6th for further deliberations on the submissions made by all parties and for the Director-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA), Musa Nuhu who was said to be out of the country to attend in person. The committee was of the view that, there was need to ensure that an amicable resolution is reached by all interest groups.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority  (NCAA) had few weeks ago, approved new Safety Threshold Ground Handling Charges for the ground handling companies, commencing from October 1, 2021, for international carriers and January 1, 2022 for domestic operators.

With this approval, the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO), Skyway Aviation Handling Company  (SAHCO) and Precision Aviation Handling Company Limited  (PAHCOL) and Swissport Handling Company, can now charge the same handling rates as their counterparts in the sub-African countries.

A document obtained by The Travel Port had indicated that 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 for 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.

Another circular signed by 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.

The circular read in part: “All stakeholders are invited to note that the new ground handling rates for international and domestic operations will become effective on 1st October, 2021 and 1st January, 2022, respectively.

“All stakeholders are directed to ensure full compliance with the safety threshold ground handling charges. Any change to these charges must be done in formal consultation with and approval of NCAA. Please be guided accordingly’’. the circular stated. The last amended rates for ground handling were done in 1986.

 Tochukwu Michael 

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