Operators at the cargo terminal of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), , have confirmed that currently some foreign airlines have refused to airlift cargo from Nigeria to European destinations, except London.
The airlines that refused to airlift Nigerian cargo include Turkish Airlines, Air France, Lufthansa and KLM.
Managing Director of Flights and Logistics Solutions Limited, Amos Akpan, told THISDAY he wanted to send goods, which were largely personal effects to Zurich, Switzerland through Turkish Airlines, but after the cargo was screened and certified and after the airline said it met its standard, an official of the airline told him that it would not be taken because currently goods from Nigeria are being rejected in European cities, except spare parts.
"I wanted to send personal effects to Zurich, Switzerland, but it was rejected by Turkish Airlines after it passed through safety screening and was certified. They said cities in Europe are not accepting goods from Nigeria. I will understand if they are rejecting fish and meat because concerned agencies from EU have to approve such goods. My relation returned to Nigeria from Zurich but she could not carry everything because of excess luggage payment, so she decided to cargo it. I have gone to three airlines, Turkish, Lufthansa and Air France but they refused. They directed me to take it to brokerage firm so that they would pack it with other goods and cargo it, but I refused," he said.
Akpan alleged that EU is discriminating against goods from Nigeria, but the US, Dubai and other parts of the world accept our goods, which means that Nigerians cannot export their own goods; just as they import goods from Europe, noting that the action distorts balance of trade.
"In Europe African items are in high demand but they cannot allow us to export these items. There has to be a way they can resolve this matter. What they have done now is that they have regulated us out of the market. I went to Air France and they said that I should send it through brokerage where they will add it to other goods and a logistics company would later take it to their warehouse from where they will move it. I am in NAHCO (Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc) and this is not happening to one airline alone," Akpan said.
An official of one of the major European carriers in charge of cargo at the Lagos airport, told THISDAY that the rejection was a recent development, which he hopes would be resolved.
He said the airlines explained that European Union had introduced some policies and charges that are inimical to the interest of the airlines, but they are pushing to resolve the issue so that they would start airlifting Nigerian cargo to these European cities again.
"It is true that some airlines are rejecting cargo to European cities because the EU has introduced some policies, which are not helpful to the airlines, but the airlines air making efforts to resolve the problem. In the past they carry Nigerian cargo but recently they have stopped, except spare parts," he said.
However, the Director of Operations, Cargolux Airlines and the President of Association of Foreign Airlines Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN), Kingsley Nwokoma, expressed doubt that the airlines could reject cargo shipped from Nigeria, except such goods that are among prohibited items but admitted that there could be more stringent conditions now.
"Our people do a lot of forgery so I think there is more to it. This is because I am in London now and before I travelled I moved cargo to France without hitches. Personal effect is personal effects. Before I sent the cargo I called the Head of Quarantine and followed due process and did the required paper work," Nwokoma said.
A senior official in NAHCO explained to THISDAY that airlines have minimum volume they can take out of the country and anything below that volume would not be accepted.
"There is a minimum kilogramme that airlines can accept. The volume has to be high and the volume of the goods is determined by each airline. So what they do is that they collect all the goods together before sending it. If the volume has not reached the level they want they will not carry it. That is why you need to go to an agency so they consolidate the goods together. Airlines want to carry goods from Nigeria. When the bring cargo here they would like to carry from here instead of flying empty," the NAHCO official told THISDAY.