Irregularity forces aviation ground handling firm to suspend operations

  • $6 million investment, a 100, 000 jobs under threat
  • NCAA to clear company of wrong doing

An aviation ground handling company, Precision Aviation Handling Company Limited (PAHCOL) with its partner, Aviation Handling Services (AHS) International have suspended its ground handling work at the Lagos and Abuja airports at it regularises it documentations with Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

There are indications that the NCAA will clear the firm of wrong doing as it is said to be satisfied with its explanation over alleged wrong doing.

This is coming as the firm denied operating illegally in the country, citing the misunderstanding of the agreement it has with Menzies by its competitors who are said to be jittery with innovation it’s bringing to aviation ground handling services in Nigeria.

Woleshadare.net had last week reported that the NCAA had commenced investigation into ground handling activities at Lagos airport by an unlicensed firm, Menzies Aviation.

It was reported that Menzies had used the licence of Precision Aviation Handling Company Limited (PAHCOL), which was issued certification by the regulatory body some few years ago, but could not commence operations due to lack of equipment.

It would be recalled that Menzies Aviation had sent a letter in 2013 to the NCAA after discussion/orientation with regard to possible ground handling activities in Nigeria. It was then decided between Menzies Aviation and AHS International (also a ground handling company operating mainly in West Africa) that AHS would go into partnership with PAHCOL.

 

Hence, a joint venture between AHS International and PAHCOL was signed and the new company name AHS Nigeria Limited was created.

As requested by the NCAA, in their letter, AHS Nigeria Limited would continue on the PAHCOL ground handling licence which is valid until October 18, 2023.

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Reacting to the report, Director AHS, Mr. Sam Oluwole told journalists that over $6 million investments were at risk should the clearance take too long for the NCAA to verify its claim to know that it did not carry out illegal activities but a total misconception about its partnership with Menzies which was their partners and provides PAHCOL with equipment and logistics.

Oluwole further explained that after discussion with NCAA, the first inconsistency we had to address was the name Menzies Aviation.

“According to NCAA, Menzies Aviation has not obtained a ground handling licence to operate in Nigeria. That is correct. However, our company is not Menzies Aviation but AHS Nigeria Limited. Menzies Aviation is solely providing support to AHS Nigeria Limited with regards to ground handling operating standards and procedure,”

“So, for anybody to say that on February 7, 2018 Menzies Aviation handled a flight at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) is completely false. Menzies Aviation did not handle any flight on that day. It was handled by AHS Nigeria Limited which was made up of PAHCOL and AHS International”.

“That aspect of it is what we are currently talking with NCAA. Even as I speak, we are yet to get official notification of what and what they want us to do to regularise the situation. The last meeting we had with them yesterday was February 8, 2018.  Verbally it was agreed that the situation would need to be remedied. We told them that here now, we are faced with a situation where hundreds of Nigerians that had been employed; young people have to go home”.

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He lamented that Investments running into millions of dollars are at stake in terms of equipment that are already here and that are on the high sea.

“We have to find a way round this whole thing in the interest of the country and make sure that the situation is regularised. Out of respect for them, out of respect for constituted authority we already took the decision to suspend our operations even without official notification. We expected the official letter to come in today, by Monday, it will come in. We have suspended the operations to show that whatever act of omission that had taken place is not intended to embarrass NCAA or to slight the authorities”, he added.

Oluwole said all the company was interested in was doing everything right because of huge Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that would come to the country because of the return on investment.

 “What we are talking about is a lot of employment opportunities for cargo, for passenger handling activities and so forth. Thousands of Nigerians and by extension hundreds of thousands of dependants will benefit from this”.

He explained that in 2006, Precision Aviation Handling Company (PAHCOL) Limited was incorporated to commence ground handling activities in all Nigerian airports.

The company, he reiterated started to inject some level of competition in ground handling services which was dominated and still dominated by Skypower Aviation Handling Limited (SAHCOL and Nigeria Aviation Company NAHCO.

“When we started, we found out that what was required  was highly capital and in terms of equipment, 75 per cent of your investment goes into ground handling business. We then set about getting a viable foreign partner that will help us; one that allows us to actualise our objectives which will strengthen our potentials in that area. With that type of situation, we stretched our tentacles out. At the end of the day we were able to find partnership in a group called Aviation Handling Services (AHS) International.”

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The arrangement was to partner with PAHCOL and operate on PACHOL licence until may be when they can have their own direct licence. That was where AHS Nigeria Limited was born. AHS Nigeria Limited now incorporated through shareholders AHS international.

“PAHCOL had obtained its ground handling licence which normally runs for five years. We were the first to get ten year licence tenure”.

Oluwole stated that problem started when competitors when they saw Menzies logo, petitioning the aviation regulatory body that Menzies had come to do ground handling in the country.

He hinted that Menzies could not have done business in aviation because it does not have the required licence, adding that PAHCOL handled the service.

“AHS Aviation Limited is a Menzies partner and Menzies supports them with logistics anywhere in the world to ensure standards, quality assurance making sure that the same standard you have in Accra is what you have in Texas, London Gatwick in different airports with Menzies standard”, he added.

Wole Shadare