Menzies Aviation, a ground handling company with its headquarters in Dublin, Scotland earlier today carried out ground handling operations at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos without approval.
Sahara Reporters learned that the ground handling company was still undergoing certification processes with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), before it carried out the illegal ground handling operations at the airport without the required approval.
This is not the first time such violation has gone unchecked by the NCAA as two years back, Italian carrier Air Meridiana commenced ticket sales and stranded passengers at the MMIA as they planned to jump approval and operate.
A source who gave the current information to our correspondent said the ground handling agent earlier today handled Air Cote d’Ivoire at Lagos Airport, which departed from Abidjan.
Our correspondent was also told that the unregistered company used the license of Precision Aviation Handling Company Ltd (PAHCOL), which was issued certification by the regulatory body some years back, but could not commence ground handling operations till date because of lack of resources to acquire equipment.
Besides, it was gathered that Menzies Aviation used the ground handling equipment of the troubled Arik Air to carry out ground handling operations. Arik Air is not licensed to carry out ground handling for another airline but has the right to handle some of its operations.
The source said: “The handling company came in without an operating license and they rendered handling services to Air Cote d’Ivoire today (yesterday). It indicates that our airports are porous to the extent that an unregistered ground handling company will operate in our airport. They borrowed Arik Air equipment to commence handling meanwhile Arik Air is not a ground handling company. How did their staff get to the ramp?"
“The company used PACHOL license, which NCAA has already told them that it is not transferable. NCAA actually told them to do the proper thing that if they want to come into Nigeria, they should go and register while the agency carries out security checks on them. They know that if they use PACHOL name to operate, the company cannot attract foreign and big airlines. So, they claimed to be Menzies to clients in order to attract airlines."
“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) did not give them apron pass, they now went to use Arik equipment to get to the apron area to commence operations. They are using PACHOL license and Arik equipment to deceive clients and FAAN.”
A security source speaking on the issue with our correspondent said that such act was a breach of security standards and should attract severe sanctions from the regulatory agency.
The security source said that before any company could carry out operations at the airport, it ought to go through security checks, which he said the company had violated with the commencement of operations without due approval.
General Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA Mr. Sam Adurogboye, in a telephone interview with our correspondent confirmed that the ground handling company carried out operations at the airport yesterday, but said the agency had commenced an investigation into the issue.
He said: “The matter has been reported to us. I have been able to confirm that and NCAA is looking at all angles on the matter. We will look at the aspect of registration. Do they have the appropriate clearance to do what they did?"
“We know they applied to NCAA for ground handling business, but what we are looking at is whether they were certified to start operating. We are investigating their operations.”
Recall a fortnight ago, Nigerian carrier Med-view Airlines alleged that same handling company was sabotaging its efforts in the United Kingdom market by not providing services it was under contract to provide causing backlogs of passenger delay and cancellation.