ENCOUNTER

INTERACTION BETWEEN THE ACTING MANAGING DIRECTOR, SKYWAY AVIATION HANDLING COMPANY LIMITED,  MR BASIL AGBOARUMI AND AVIATION REPORTERS BASED AT THE MURTALA MUHAMMED AIRPORT, IKEJA

During the interactive session, he spoke on a number of issues. Aviationline brings you excerpts:

Market share

For companies to do business with you they would have checked your books and they know you have the capacity and the technical know-how to give them the services they require.

It doesn’t mean that because of this as a company, we have allowed price to enter us. We still need opportunities to do better. We know we are growing and closing the gaps. For example, before SAHCOL was privatised in 2009, we maintained about 21 per cent of the market share, but today to the glory of God, we have grown to about 48 per cent and we are not stopping there, we are still growing. Part of what we need to do is to train our staff and get modern and state-of-the-art equipment into the system and that is what we are doing and closing the gap even as we are stepping up on our services.

How much is SAHCOL projecting for business expansion and training in 2018?

As you are aware, the Nigerian budget just came out from the National Assembly in May, so, we are planning in line with that. Companies have budgets in order to plan. We have submitted our proposals to the board of directors and until they sit, we can’t know what they will approve.

As the Acting Managing Director of SAHCOL, what will be the focus of your management?

One thing we need to know is that it is not about me, but about SAHCOL as a company. One thing I can tell you now we have going for us is that we are a very solid team, driving the affairs of SAHCOL. One thing we are trying together is to build people, consolidate on the company we have now and become better. That is exactly what we are doing and that is our focus and we are not distracted from it because we are pushing it. We are building a company where people that have the right ideas are allowed to express themselves without shutting them down. We know we have the best of minds in the industry, we know we have the best of people in the industry and we are tapping into that position of advantage to build a global company.

What is your assessment of the Nigerian aviation industry, generally?

I said earlier that SAHCOL can’t leave in isolation of the industry, there is a chain that connects all of us together and whatever that affects one aspect, it affects every other. When you look at 2017 globally, the summary of the industry was that it was good for the industry and I want to believe that 2018 is already consolidating on that. We believe that the industry is moving forward and things are happening very fast. We have a minister that has the courage to want to do certain things.

Now, we are talking of having a national carrier, which we believe will be good for our aviation industry. We have come to a point where we have to realise that there is no Nigeria aviation, but global standards. That is why you see regulators that visit us regularly to determine our level of compliance. It means that we must do things in line with international best practices.

Where the world is going in aviation is cooperation, you can’t stand alone. As long as you have something to offer in aviation, the time has come whereby stakeholders in the industry must begin to relate with one and other and jointly take decisions that can move the industry forward.

There is a rivalry between the two ground handling companies in the sector, how can this be resolved for the growth of the industry?

Cooperation is for the best of the industry, we as a company we have identified cooperation as the tonic to build the industry. We will continue to do our best, take the right step and initiative to ensure that what can give us the kind of aviation that we desire in the future is done. there must come to a point whereby we will definitely need ourselves.

In other parts of the world, ground handling companies are pooling resources together, it is for us to get to that maturity stage. Even, airlines are cooperating now. When you have airlines in various parts of the world, they complement each other in passenger and cargo operations. We will have better aviation industry once we begin to look at the industry from that perspective.

You spoke about price war earlier and you said it was necessary for NCAA to intervene in it, how exactly do you want the agency to come in?

Let’s look at the banking industry, for instance, there is a regulator that regulates their activities. For instance, the handling rates we pay in Nigeria has not changed over the years despite the fall in the value of our local currency, the Naira compared to the Dollar and other major world currencies. The airlines have consistently changed their fares in line with prevailing exchange rate, but we have not done that for so many years in the ground handling business. We still operate with the same tariff that we have been operating up to the time the Dollar exchanged for N165 and regrettably today, the rate has increased many times over, more than double. What it costs us to buy a ground handling equipment today has increased astronomically. It is not that the cost has changed, but in a situation where we were spending one Naira to buy a ground handling equipment before, by the time we source for foreign exchange, you will see that it has gone to about N3. That’s the situation we have found ourselves. But, the airlines still pay the same amount of money they have been paying us even before then.

What is SAHCOL doing to retain its good hands that are leaving in droves?

When it comes to life, you can’t stop anyone from aspiring further. Men are not created to be stagnant and that is why you have migration. Workers in companies too do that. As much as possible, as a company, we will try to keep our goods hands and we don’t want anyone to leave after joining us, but you can’t stop people from moving. If we do that, it becomes an anti-labour practice that you spoke about earlier. We are doing a lot to retain our staff as far as we can.  People have plans for their lives and careers and people will move from time to time.

SAHCOL still has the best of staff in the system with the best of training. We are consistently training our workers and as much as possible, we are retaining our staff.