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GIA Managing Director Reveals Lack of Consultation on NIRO Handling Contract for Banjul International Airport Ground Handling

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 Officials From the Gambia International Airline 

By Ramatoulie Jawo 

The Gambia International Airlines (GIA) revealed to a parliamentary committee that they were not consulted about a new contract awarding ground handling services at Banjul International Airport to NIRO Handling Company Limited.

In a recent meeting with the National Assembly Standing Committee on Public Enterprises Committee (PEC), the Managing Director of Gambia International Airline (GIA), Numo K Sanneh, disclosed that the GIA Board was not consulted regarding the contract arrangement with NIRO Handling Company Limited to handle ground operations at Banjul International Airport. This revelation took place as part of the committee’s consideration of the activity report and financial statements.

 “We were not consulted about the contract arrangement for NIRO Handling Company Limited to take over the ground handling at the Banjul International Airline,” he said. 

Addressing queries from committee members about their awareness of the contract, MD Sanneh clarified that GIA had not been informed or involved in the decision-making process. According to him, although there were plans to open ground handling services to private entities, no consultations were initiated, leaving GIA unaware of the intentions to introduce a new competitor.

MD Sanneh emphasized that, to their knowledge, no formal engagements or consultations were conducted regarding this development. He further discussed the challenges of introducing multiple ground-handling entities, considering factors such as passenger volume, industry size, and operational capacity.

Chairman Lamin J. Sanneh inquired about the existence of national or multiple competitors on the ground. MD Sanneh explained that, in some jurisdictions, ground handling is limited to a country’s specific needs, emphasizing the importance of considering national interests.

“This is because one has to also look at the interest of the country and in this situation, looking at the passenger volumes that come to the Gambia and looking at the aviation industry and looking at the size of the industry as well as the operations in the country whether or not it can handle many players many ground handling space,” he said. 

Mam Sait Jallow, the Board Chair of GIA, highlighted the need for satisfying security requirements and regulatory compliance when introducing new players to the market.

Jallow expressed concern that the introduction of a new competitor could compromise GIA’s ability to comply with security requirements, potentially posing a security threat. He shared that GIA had already witnessed a significant loss in market share and revenue, prompting the board to officially address the matter with the government. The Board Chair stated that management would write to the Ministry and relevant authorities to highlight the adverse repercussions of the situation.

“We cannot argue that if you introduce a new entrant, it will pose a security threat. That’s up to the regulator, but they see that situation is weakening GIA and putting it at a disadvantageous position and incapable of meeting the requirements and that is possible and can be defended,” he said 

 “And from the report we received from the management already this year we have seen a big incursion into the market share in ground handling, meaning that up to 40 percent of the revenue has been lost already and this is likely to increase what we as a board agreed is that officially this has to be tabled before government, and we have requested that management write to the Ministry and copies the relevant authorities so this situation and adverse repercussions it is going to have on the company,” he said. 

In response, Honourable Almami Gibba, a committee member, called on GIA Management and the Board to collaborate in taking necessary steps to address the issue. He encouraged them to engage with the relevant Ministry and the committee to find a collective resolution to the matter.

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