By Akogu Yusuf
Exactly 35 years after an amendment on ground handling charges, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA) has approved new safety threshold charges for air cargo companies.
The amendment was last witnessed in 1986 as the new rates are expected to commence from October 1, 2021 for international airlines and January 1, 2022 for domestic operators.
The NCAA approved between $1,500 and $5,000 (passenger and cargo flights) for handlers for 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.
Other African ground handling companies charge operators as much as $4,000, while in Nigeria, airlines pay $400 for the same services.
In Senegal, ground handling fee costs $2,250 for narrow-body aircraft and $5,259 for wide-body, while in Guinea, it cost $1,673 for narrow and $4,715narrow for wide body aircraft.
Cameroon charges $1,400 for and $4,500 for wide, while Sierra Leone charges $2,250 for narrow and $5,250 for wide and in Ghana, it’s $1,500 for narrow-body and $4,150 wide body aircraft.
In Nigeria, the rates are between $400 and $1,139 for narrow and $3,000 and $3,200 wide-body aircraft depending on the negotiation of the international airline. But with this approval, Nigerian ground handling companies can now charge the same handling rates as their counterparts in the sub-African countries.
A circular signed by Director General of the NCAA, 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) with the subject: “Safety Threshold Ground Handling Charges,” reads 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.”
Reacting to the development, Chairman, Association of Ground Handlers (AGHAN), Mr. Olaniyi Adigun, praised the Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika, for approving the amendment. Also speaking on the impact the previous charges and the current charges would have on the economy, he explained that other African countries charging at $4,000, remit 5 per cent of about $200 to their governments while the Nigerian Government is getting just $20 stressing that the disparity was miles apart and is a lot of capital flight out of the country.