With fall in the value of the nation’s currency, Naira, there are indications that ground handling companies may be forced to increase cargo tariff for both in-bound and out-bound goods at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, investigations have revealed.
The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Aviance Plc., Skyways Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL), and Precision Aviation Handling Company Limited (PAHCOL) are the leading ground handling companies in Nigeria.
The decision to hike cargo tariff by the ground handling firms, it was learnt, is hinged on the rising value of the dollar, which is exchanging for over N210 at the parallel market.
A source close to one of the firms said the resolve to increase cargo tariff is sequel to the increasing costs of operations, as the firms now spend more to procure spare parts, acquire operational equipment, as well as send staff for recurrent training overseas. They said that new equipment would be bought at the new exchange rate, which is heavily tilted against the naira.
Investigations also revealed that the ground handling companies now pay more for apron passes, which was recently increased by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) from N50,000 to N150,000 at the Lagos Airport.
The source hinted that ground handling companies are groaning under huge charge regime, as FAAN in Port Harcourt now charge over N250,000 per vehicle as apron pass.
“Concessionaires are also groaning under the yoke of exorbitant charges at the toll gates around the airport, while ground handling companies increased cargo tariff about three years ago and, since then, the naira had been devalued by more than 150 percent.
“Since then, operators have experienced serious increment in operating costs, in some instances rising between 150 and 250 percent,” the source added.
But, in a telephone interview, spokesman for NAHCO Aviance, Mr. Tayo Ajakaiye, could not confirm plans to increase cargo tariff. According to him, any plan to increase tariff would be done after wide consultations with all stakeholders.
Ajakaiye said any information about increase in tariff now should be likened to mere conjectures until all stakeholders had been actively engaged in processes that would lead to price increases.
He said NAHCO Aviance is operating within industry approved charges but, however, noted that ground handling companies are incurring rising operating costs, which has become obvious in the face of the rising exchange rate.
He said if there are plans to increase such charges, NAHCO Aviance will carry out constructive industry engagement with relevant stakeholders before implementing any such plans.
But, spokesman of SAHCOL, Mr. Basil Agboarumi, said he is not aware of any plans by ground handling companies to raise cargo tariff.
The General Manager, Corporate Communications, SAHCOL said: “I am not aware of any plans to increase cargo tariff.”
A source close to one of the firms said: “The plan to increase cargo tariff has reached advanced stage. This will become clearer this week. That may have informed plans to convoke a cargo summit to achieve stakeholders’ engagement, where issues concerning the need for operators to make sacrifices for the growth of the industry will be unveiled.”
The Chief Commercial Officer of Nahco Aviance in a statement by the company earlier this week as said: “Air cargo is a major driver of the Nigeria’s economy and is in fact, also a potential high earner of foreign income for the nation as oil export earnings have been downward. There are sacrifices to be made in the days ahead from our estimation and we could all agree to the sacrifices that must be made to assure safety, security, efficiency.”