By Adekunle Williams and Solomon Asowata
Lagos – Skyway Aviation Handling Company PLC (SAHCO) has signed a contract with Virgin Atlantic Airline to handle the carrier’s cargo operations.
The Manager, Corporate Communications, SAHCO, Mrs Vanessa Uansohia, confirmed the development in a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday.
Uansohia said SAHCO was chosen by the airline based on the company’s track record in Cargo Handling, Ramp Handling, Passenger Handling and Warehousing in the aviation sector.
“Virgin Atlantic Cargo awarded the handling contract to SAHCO in Lagos to improve its service offering for customers in Nigeria and to provide growth capacity.
“This was informed by a 19 per cent boost in the airline’s export volumes last year and higher inbound demand from the pharmaceutical and courier sectors.
“From April 10, Virgin Atlantic’s import and export cargo will be handled in SAHCO’s 22,000 sqm warehouse operation at Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
“This incorporates special facilities including cold rooms for perishables and temperature-sensitive shipments, and dedicated locations for courier and high value cargo.
“The warehouse building’s 22 truck loading bays will expedite collection and deliveries of cargo, while 24/7 CCTV coverage, access control systems, screening technology and a control room will ensure the highest levels of security,” she said.
Also, Tonia Boye, Director, Cargo Operations, Virgin Atlantic, said the contract with SAHCO would help boost the company’s cargo business.
Boye said Lagos had been an important cargo market for Virgin for more than 17 years and the airline was forecasting further growth in its export and import volumes in 2019.
According to her, by moving to a larger and modern facility, the airline can improve its product and service offerings for the growing number of companies moving goods to and from Nigeria.
Boye said the airline’s daily Nigeria flights, operated using an Airbus A340-600 aircraft with up to 20 tonnes of cargo capacity, saw positive revenue and volume growth in 2018.
She said revenue export from UK rose nine per cent year-on-year, helped by a 135 per cent rise in pharmaceutical volumes and a 21 per cent growth in courier shipments.
Boye said that the 11 per cent boost in annual revenues export from Lagos was largely attributed to higher perishables traffic because of the Nigerian government’s initiative to encourage agricultural exports.