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Ramping up

Good relations between airlines and ground handlers are crucial for achieving turnaround targets and Alan Dron finds that new technologies are changing some traditional ramp procedures

Those minutes between the end of one flight and the start of the next are some of the most pressured in an airline’s day – the turnaround, which can be as little as just 25 minutes. Carriers are under continuous pressure to ensure an on-time departure while keeping operational costs to a minimum.


Airlines are also aware of the value of having good ground handling personnel – none more so than the low cost carriers that depend on having the shortest possible time on the ground to squeeze the maximum value out of their aircraft. And that means working to create good relationships with the ramp staff.


In April IATA highlighted the improvement of collaboration between stakeholders as one of three priorities for the ground handling industry, the others being the harmonisation of global standards to improve safety and developing talent.


Speaking at the 31st IATA Ground Handling Conference in Doha, Qatar, Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security, highlighted the need for efficient ground handling operations as an essential part of aviation’s efforts to meet the continuing forecasts for robust growth in airline activity.


He called for acceleration of the global adoption of the IATA Ground Operations Manual (IGOM), to ensure a level of operational consistency and safety across the sector worldwide: “Aviation grows safer when global standards are consistently applied,” he said. “IGOM is the global standard and worldwide implementation is our target.”


The airline representative body also urged governments to recognise the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) in their regulatory frameworks. Adopting ISAGO globally would “foster harmonisation across the industry, reduce redundant audits, improve safety and enhance operational efficiency”, said Careen.


As of April 2018, more than 230 ground service providers had adopted ISAGO, with almost 450 registered stations located in more than 300 airports worldwide. Among airport authorities to have recognised it are London-Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol, Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok, Singapore Changi, Seattle-Tacoma and Miami. Low cost carrier Ryanair is one airline that believes in the benefits of having a good relationship with its ground handling agents and its rumbustious CEO Michael O’Leary has a strong personal allegiance to the apron personnel at the airline’s Dublin home base.


Partly, says the carrier’s Director of Operations Adrian Dunne, that allegiance is because many of the Dublin ramp staff have been in their jobs for years and have looked after Ryanair flights as the Irish airline has mushroomed in size. >>


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