Challenges at Major Airports

Airports recognize that, in the eyes of the travelling public, their reputation is as important as the airlines in today’s competitive aviation environment. Airports are stepping up their involvement to jointly market the combination of their airport and the airline route as the winning strategy to attract a larger piece of the travelling public.

In this mix of airports and airlines is a third major player, a ground service provider that adds to the success story. Airport ramp operations are very complex requiring effective utilization of available gate real estate to service aircraft. The delivery of the promise to provide a safe, punctual and quality service to the travelling public requires each party to work with precision, planning and effective utilisation of space and time around a very expensive plane.

From the inefficiencies associated with multiple ground handlers providing duplication of services, airport designs not designed to account for storage of GSE and a lack of standardized procedures mandated by the airport for all players can lead to unexpected and costly aircraft damage. These events cause lengthy delays and a ripple effect on the entire operation and add millions of losses to the airline.

Well, we have identified a challenge, now how does a large airport with complex problems tackle ineffective resource and real estate management to minimise safety incidents.

The first evident challenge is the duplication of GSE to provide the same service by various ground service providers as their service promise to provide the airlines with a complete ground handling turnaround process. The second evident challenge in these operations is the stretching of available human resources over a large area to complete different work assignments ranging from offloading at the aircraft and then onto the arrivals belt that could be a mile away. The third evident challenge is the storage of non-motorised equipment after servicing is complete.

We need new measures to optimize ground handling processes, the first aspect is defining standardized approaches to the use and allocation of ramp space, by breaking up the traditional ground handling into focused service offerings. Airlines are in favor of greater choices to increase competition among providers, drive down costs and increase quality for their passengers. This can also be achieved by many players providing core specialised Further decentralization of ground handling could effectively assist all three parties involved in ground operations be it the airport, the airline or the ground handler. The ground handler can focus entirely on aircraft handling and leave the baggage delivery to another organisation. Another issue today is large ground handling companies follow the path of an airline by mandating one size fits all approach to their network of airports; however, it should be that airports mandate programs suited and tailor-made for their airport encompassing local requirements. Every airport is different, and every operation requires the local touch to make it a success.

Could several focused servicing companies be better than a few large companies for major airports with time-sensitive complex operations?

Will this help grow competition, reduce storage requirements and increase safety around the most expensive piece of equipment, the aircraft, or be a benefit to all three major parties delivering a cohesive process to the end customer, the passenger?

I would like to hear your views or if you are interested in exploring new paths in ground operations to make every event a success than contact me at or

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