From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives has directed the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Aviation Ground Handlers Association of Nigeria (AGHAN) to suspend the 150% hike of ground charges for airlines operating in the country.
Chairman, House Committee on Aviation,Nnolim Nnaji, gave the directive at an investigative hearing with the NCAA, AGHAN, Airline Operators of Nigeria( AON) and International Air Transport Association(IATA).
Nnolim, while speaking at the hearing, said although there was need to review ground charges, it cannot be done in isolation.
“People have started flying and we don’t want a situation where we will get into trouble. If the ground charges are increased, flights will drop and it will affect the industry. We know that there is a need to increase or reduce, but decisions on issues like this cannot be taken in isolation. It is the DG of the NCAA that was supposed to speak on this issue but since he is not here, we will talk with the directors. For now, let us maintain the status quo.”
The AON President, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, told the lawmakers that the association said the hike in ground charges was unacceptable to airlines.
Sarina, who was represented by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said while the government may have their reason for the increase, the timing was wrong.
The Airline operators of Nigeria (AON) is deeply concerned by the potential impact the recent approval granted by the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA to ground handling service providers to increase ground handling charges will have on the air transport industry and the nation at large.
“The new ground handling charges, which are expected to take effect from October 1, 2021 for international flights and January 1, 2022 for domestic flights have been increased by an astronomical margin of between 100 per cent and 1,200 per cent. Put into perspective, international ground handling charges which used to be $400 are now $5000 depending on the aircraft type. Also domestic ground handling charges which used to be from N10,000 pee flight, will now increase to between N20,000 and N70,000 depending on aircraft type.”