By Chinedu Eze
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) may sanction an international handling company that is operating illegally in Nigeria.
THISDAY learnt that the company, Menzies Aviation had applied to offer its services in Nigeria but started operation before getting approval and while concerned authorities are still processing its request.
The ground handling company has its headquarters in Dublin, Scotland, but has its base in Africa in Accra, Ghana and currently seeking for approval to operate in Nigeria.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said it is also investigating the matter and if it is found that the company was culpable it would also carry out series of sanction against it.
Menzies Aviation was reported to have carried out ground handling operations at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos without approval while NCAA is still reviewing its documents and industry operatives said that it is not only a breach of procedures but also a breach of safety and security because the activity of the company is not yet under surveillance without approval for it to deliver service.
However, spokesman of NCAA, Mr. Sam Adurogboye,Â Â confirmed that the ground handling company has carried out operations at the Lagos airport for some well-known foreign airlines but said the agency had commenced investigation into the issue.
â€œThe 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?
â€œWe 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.â€
The company was reported to be operating with a non-transferable licence of a local handing company, Precision Aviation Handling Company Ltd (PAHCOL), which was issued certification by the regulatory body some few years ago, but could not commence operations due to lack of equipment.
Â â€œThe handling company came in without an operating license and they rendered handling services to Air Cote dâ€™Ivoire. It indicates that our airports are porous to the extent that an unregistered ground handling company will operate in our airport.
â€œThe 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, a source said.
THISDAY also learnt that FAAN did not give the company apron pass, so they used one owned by a major Nigerian airline to commence operations, an action described as breach of security by senior aviation security personnel.