To remain top notch in its area of service, the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO) has said it is committing huge resources to the acquisition of equipment in order to provide the same standard of service that is obtained across the globe.
The Group Managing Director of the company, Mrs. Olatokunbo Fagbemi, said NAHCO has a programmed development and growth plan to expand the company, including the export processing area in which it would begin to develop next year.
“We spent about N2 billion in equipment acquisition in the first phase of our plan. In cargo, we have high loader, bulk loaders, bowsers, Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), Tugs, Aircraft Tractor (GPU) and others. Within the warehouse, we have got forklift also.
“The phase two of the programme has started and we are expecting more equipment to start arriving in the next couple of weeks. Basically, most of our equipment is to support aircraft handling and boost our operations.
“Those are the equipment we have brought and those are the areas we have supported. What we have done basically is to invest more on equipment and when you invest in more equipment, you have better efficiency. The new equipment is easier to turnaround and increase your activities. Our processes have also improved. In fact, right now, every single Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is being looked in,” Fagbemi said.
She said the company’s transformation was being driven by the KPMG and one of the things the company does with KPMG is the scrutiny of every single manual to see how best the company could use its resources.
“One of the things that we have done is to assure our staff that it is not about laying off of workers at NAHCO, but about improved efficiency. One, you talk about efficiency, some people attribute it to layoff, but because we are pushy, we have been able to use our people better. “Once you can bring efficiency into services and processes, you have to see it in cost; otherwise, you have done nothing to improve the system. One of the things we ensure we do is our maintenance culture.
“We try as much as possible to adhere to the manufacturers’ guidelines. It is a collation of all that and we have changed the orientation of our marketing activities. We now focus more on customers. I think that is what is yielding the result,” she said.
On fight against drug trafficking where in the past some company’s workers were indicted, Fagbemi explained that the two major ground handling companies, NAHCO and Skyway Aviation Handling Company Plc had a meeting with the airlines and the Ministry of Aviation.
After the meeting, she said everyone is doing his job more professionally, but what NAHCO has done “on our part is to ensure that our staff must follow the SOP and we are very hard on staff that violates any of the standards.”
“Ground handling is a very precise sub-sector. If you want flexibility, then, you don’t go into the job. We have standard quality and performance in all the airports and they ensure that all is met. When there are shortcomings, we record some of our observations. In a nutshell, all parties have agreed to follow SOP that has to do with passenger facilitation,” the Group Managing Director said.
On the plans to develop its export processing facility, Mrs. Fagbemi explained that the company has a whole export processing area, noting that it took a long time for Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to give NAHCO approval, “so, we going to build it into 2020 budget. We just got the approval about two months ago. By the time we finish with the expert processing centre, we will provide more facilities.”
On pricing of services, which many believe that handling companies under price themselves due to competition, Mrs. Fagbemi disclosed that the ground handling companies have formed an association that would review pricing of their services.
“We have formed an association in the sub-sector known as Ground Handling Association of Nigeria, which is something that will be discussed by the people that are at the helms of that. In terms of pricing, I think it is not just the ground handling alone; we have been talking with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) because we need their protection also.
“I think when the foreign exchange changed, some of the airlines were paying in dollars, but when the foreign exchange went haywire, that was not factored in and it caused a major challenge. But, it is something that we believe that we will resolve. We have discussed with some of the major airlines on the need to do that,” she said.