The Managing Director of Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO Plc), Mr. Basil Agboarumi says aviation handling companies in Nigeria do not have a place for 100 per cent waivers on cargo demurrage as requested by freight forwarders.
Agboarumi said, “at the seaport, NPA absorbed the waiver by giving credit notes to the terminal operators to cover demurrage during the period. There is no such scheme in place for waivers in the aviation industry that we have been notified of. There is no provision in the aviation sector for government either directly or through FAAN our landlord or NCAA, to absorb the financial impact of any waiver that we are aware of”
“The aviation industry is bearing the brunt of COVID 19. Throughout the period of the lockdown, and as the airports and airspace is shutdown except for approved flights, the ground handlers maintained operations throughout in the handling and delivery of essential cargo as released by Nigerian Customs Service in line with the laid down procedures of government. We have done this, irrespective of materially increased costs; including hazard allowances, PPE etc. We have also maintained all infrastructure, power generating, security and other things required to keep all cargo in our custody safe and secure irrespective of the lockdown and mounting expenses like rent and service recovery charge due to Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria”
According to Mr Agboarumi, the costs whether standard or ad-hoc have been borne by the handlers saying that situation was made worst for them as an organisation by the massive drop in revenue which at the last estimate was about 90 per cent.
He explained that ground handlers employed over 4000 Nigerians directly and impact hundreds of thousands directly and indirectly, remarking that they have lost over 90 per cent of our revenue and have material cash crunch.
“We are unable to meet our staff salaries going forward, neither are we able to meet other obligations.”
It would be recalled that air freight forwarders have been demanding that the two major handling service providers in Nigeria, SAHCO Plc and Nahcoaviance waive the due demurrage on cargo for as long as the ongoing nationwide lockdown as a result of the COVID19 pandemic persists. They argued that they were not responsible for the lockdown and that airports had been shut to normal business operations.