Multiple taxation, audits, poor airport facilities, others bane of ground handling business in Nigeria

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Basi Agboarumi, MD SAHCO, speaking at ABSE 2019, Lagos

Aviation Ground Handling Business in the Aviation Industry may not be as rosy as some people may think; this is because the ground handling companies say they are operating in an environment that is not enabling and encouraging.

The two Ground Handling Companies are the Skyway Aviation Handling Company, SAHCO, and the Nigeria Aviation Handling Company, NAHCO, with headquarters housed in Lagos.

With the opportunity provided by the just concluded Airport Business Summit and Expo Africa, ABSE 2019 for stakeholders in the industries having direct and indirect dealings with the airport to rob minds on constraints militating against their businesses, the Managing Director, SAHCO, Mr. Basi Agboarumi used the forum to highlight some of the challenges they grapple with on a daily basis in the industry in a paper titled:”The Challenges of Providing Handling Services in a Developing Air Transport Market”.

Mr. Agboarumi said as a developing country, the challenges were more regional and local than global, adding that, there were challenges that were peculiar to Nigeria as a developing country while the same cannot be said of a developed country with well-structured system.

He listed these challenges in a developing air transport market like Nigeria to include, high cost of equipment, high cost of training, multiple taxation and Inadequate Airport Facilities.

Others are: delayed payment by clients, multiple Audits, flight Cancellations and underpayment for services.

The SAHCO boss said while the infrastructure was inadequate to cater for their desired needs and not commensurate to what they pay, the authority kept collecting revenue for services not rendered satisfactorily.
“We have to pay through our noses most of the time, we pay a lot to be in business, everybody is collecting, collecting. I don’t want to go into controversy but it become so bad that before you can even sneeze around the airport, you must pay, everybody is squeezing, squeezing, that’s is a problem, that’s is a challenge”.

On the matter of audit and training of its personnel, he frown at the rigors of multiple audits by the International Air Transport Association, which he said was putting a strain on their finances because the audits where not cheap and free as it used to be.

Agboarumi urged the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to take a cursory look at this area and assist them to talk to IATA whom he said had become a monopoly.

“IATA Today is a monopoly, you either do it their own or you don’t do it. In those days, I know they have various rates for developed and developing, on training that needs to be looked into and I think that the NCAA might need to take up this, we need the same kind of training to give best services. There was once a time when you need to do ISAGO, ISAGO was like free but today, you have to pay for it, you pay for everything and part of what they come to check has to do with training and so we must training and if you don’t train, you are not in business, and you cannot say because you are a Nigerian company that you can just go and get training that are not certified by this same IATA”.

Up till recently, IATA introduced what is called ISAGO, and one thing ISAGO was supposed to do was to rest the issue of multiple audits, as a ground handling today, yes once in a while they just come to our company, they look at our ISADO record, they say yes because you are ISAGO, they say okay, but I think up till today, you still see multiple audits coming. What IATA is trying to do with ISAGO, is not cheap for us to do and so anytime audit comes, you just have to do your best to ensure that you don’t fail them. It is a challenge in this part of the world”, he added.

For a safe flight to be achieved, the work begins and ends on the ground. Therefore, the importance of Ground handling companies in the aviation sector cannot be overemphasized.
He noted that though the challenges were enormous, they handling companies work hard to ensure safety on the ground before it takes off, “a poorly handled aircraft on the ground was a danger in the sky”.

Agboarumi therefore called on the government to consider tax reduction and waivers to ground Handling Companies like it did for the airlines and update airport facilities and technology.

He emphasized cooperation between ground handling companies and other airport stakeholders, stressing that cooperation was the way to go if ground handling businesses were to succeed in the industry.

According to him, reduced training cost for developing countries would go a long way to continue to train its workforce while also urging airlines to prompt pay appropriate levy and fees for Handling Services rendered.

“I believe that aviation today is about cooperation, across the world, cooperation is the word and if we most have the aviation that we must have, there must be cooperation so also, there must be cooperation between ground handlers and other airport stakeholders, we must cooperate, it is our aviation, it is our own and we know what it should be, we should aspire to be better than the best and if we want to be counted among the best, then we most continue to cooperate”.
“Speed, efficiency and accuracy defines the operations of Aviation Ground Handling”.

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