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Air cargo handling operations can be described as the provision of logistics in facilitating the carriage of cargo by air. In essence, it entails making available the right and necessary expertise with equipment to perform the right task in a timely, safe, secure and cost effective manner.   According to ICAO Doc.9569c.

Air cargo handling by air form an integral part of the cargo system. It is the process of acceptance, packaging, documentation and shipment by air after due process of compliance with international statutory requirements.

There are two major handling companies in Nigeria today in the business of aviation handling which includes both passenger and cargo handling namely: Nigeria Aviation Handling Co Plc. (NAHCO) and Skypower Handling Co Ltd.(SAHCOL).Apart from the two handling companies involved in the cargo processing, there are quite a number of government agencies who have various statutory role to play before a piece of cargo is finally accepted for shipment. Some Airline carryout their own cargo handing among them is Arik air. Arik Airline are also involved in cargo handling services.

Air cargo flows seem to be characterized by constraints in Nigeria which depicts a symptom of poor co-ordination of cargo for efficient distribution and supply chain that is not cost-effective. Efficient distribution requires safe and timely means of transporting specialized cargo with high value to volume/weight ratio. These constraints according to Afolabi (2005a) revealed that the warehouses and facilities in Nigeria airports were not adequate enough to handle the volume of air cargo for efficient flow. The author further identified tough clearing procedure as a constraint to the air cargo industry in Nigeria. Moreover, Afolabi (2005b) highlighted the issue of protection and security of air cargo, improper declaration and documentation of goods in terms of types and volumes as constraints to air cargo flow in Nigeria. These therefore results in an airport handling cargo type whose origin or final destination is not close to the airport at the expense of other airports with relative closeness. This serves as productive set back to Nigeria in the sense that firms/industries that require high –value fast moving materials would not thrive while the air cargo industry will not grow to be able to compete in global supply chain and distribution. This is because most of these cargoes are important in production processes since they serve as raw materials and /or equipment required for service delivery.

The current modalities for cargo handling in Nigeria aviation industry fall short of international conventions and standards. Our Cargo Handling Protocol allows for seven days grace to clear cargoes, after which they will be charged for demurrage .In the event that the goods are not cleared within 28 days, the consignments risk being declared overtime cargo by the Nigerian Customs Service. There have been several cases of complain of pilfering, damaged or missing luggage of air passengers at the nation’s airports. All of these problems are traceable to poor modalities for cargo handling in Nigeria aviation industry. Therefore, this study is aimed at critically analyzing ways of improving cargo handling services at Nigeria airports using Arik Airline as a case study

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