PAHCOL, AHS suspend operations over ground handling row at Lagos, Abuja airports

Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos

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

This is coming as the firm denied operating illegally as alleged by competitors who misunderstood the role of Menzies Aviation in its ground handling services in Nigeria.

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

Menzies was alleged of using 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.

Director AHS, Sam Oluwole told journalists that over N1.8 billion ($6 million) investments were at risk if it takes 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. Menzies only provides PAHCOL with equipment and logistics, Oluwole said.

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 was on 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.”

Oluwole lamented that investments running into millions of dollars are at stake in terms of equipment that are already here and those that are on the high seas.

“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 said.

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, PAHCOL was incorporated to commence ground handling activities in all Nigerian airports. The company 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 intensive 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 AHS International.

“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 saw Menzies logo.

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

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