Posted by Sade Williams
The Senate Committee on Privatisation has commended the Skyway Aviation Handling Company PLC (SAHCO) for remarkable business progression in ground handling operations despite various challenges confronting the sector.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Theodore Orji gave the commendation, during an oversight visit to SAHCO Headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport(MMIA),Lagos
A statement signed by the Manager, Corporate Communications, SAHCO PLC, Mrs Vanessa Uansohia, said that Senator Orji, who led the team of both the Senate Committee and the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) reiterated that despite the challenges facing SAHCO, it has been able to break even and take up responsibilities that are not supposed to be theirs so as to provide excellent services.
The Managing Director/CEO of SAHCO, Basil Agboarumi, who received the statutory visitation committee from the Senate on behalf of SAHCO management, said that he was happy that the team has visited the company and that there has been a lot of improvement since the previous visit paid to SAHCO.
He emphasised that SAHCO was founded from the ashes of the defunct Nigerian Airways Limited(NAL) and has gone through privatisation and is currently listed in the Nigerian Stock Market(NSE)
Agboarumi emphasised that despite the fact that SAHCO is a success story, it has not been easy doing business.
He said that sourcing for Foreign Exchange(FOREX) has been a major challenge because aviation ground handling is about quality ground support equipment and that unfortunately, they can only be sourced abroad and these need to be paid for by FOREX.
SAHCO, he informed the Committee has branches in close to 20 states and all the commercially operated airports in Nigeria.
He also said that SAHCO is the first ground handling company to bring in electric operated Ground Support Equipment,in a bid to go green in line with current trends in the e developed countries.
The SAHCO boss pointed out to the team that since the ground handling company was privatised and listed, the volume of clientele has increased immensely.
This, according to him is a feat that should not to be ignored because post privatisation, nobody wanted to do business with SAHCO due to the rickety equipment and demoralized staff, adding that these have since changed due to the massive deployment of state-of-the-art equipment and due remuneration of staff.
Agboarumi also stressed that SAHCO has some equipment undergoing clearing, some are being manufactured and while others are on the sea being transported to Nigeria.
One of the challenges the Managing Director pointed out is the issue of paying 5 per cent of SHACO’s gross to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) with the expectation of making the ground handling business easy by providing the necessary amenities.
He lamented that despite paying 5 per cent SAHCO has had to step in to procure some equipment to keep up with the global best practices.
One of such equipment, he told the visiting Committee are the cargo scanners at the warehouse in the Lagos terminal, adding that FAAN is supposed to procure, man and maintain them but that FAAN has not been doing so.
This, he said, has been hampering SAHCO’s business of providing top notch services to clients, a situation that has forced the ground handling company to procure this very expensive equipment.
He also stated that while airlines are given zero tariff on equipment importation, ground handlers operating in the same environment have to pay despite the fact that ground handling services heavily rely on Ground Support Equipment.
Agboarumi stressed that payment for ground handling services is one of the lowest in the world, adding that while airlines enjoy tax relief ground Handlers struggle to keep afloat.
Speaking, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Theodore Orji said that he was shocked that despite the challenges SAHCO was facing, the company is still doing well .
He said that according to his experience, most companies downsize after privatisation but the reverse has been the case at SAHCO.