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Cargo operators to raise tariff

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.”

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