Hightime to enforce rules
Cruising Heights|January 2020
The Ground Handling business is time-sensitive and requires massive investment. Perhaps, what is most important, writes PREM BAJAJ, is the strict adherence to safety and security and that can only be achieved if the Ground Handling Regulations are followed in letter and spirit.

Ground Handling Services is a highly professional, sensitive, organised and process-driven industry that has to perform flawlessly. Although it is manpower-oriented, the selection of personnel is unlike any other – be it housekeeping, hospitality or other kinds. So, Ground Handling (GH) requires specialised, trained, and highly-skilled manpower. Airport GH services become an intricate part of an airline process and plays a vital role in ensuring safety and security in airport functioning. The world market for ground handling per annum is estimated at $ 80-200 bn.

A look, at the busiest airports in the world, highlights the importance of well-maintained and regulated ground handling. In this regard, it is rather unfortunate and dismal to find the Indian Ground Handling scenario lacking in the implementation of regulations which were intended to form the net of safety around some of the busiest airports in the country. However, some of the recent steps taken by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation would make our airports more effective and secured.

The laws, governing ground handling in the airports in the European Union (EU), and at other major airports across the world are formulated keeping in mind the cost-efficiency of airport processes and the security of the airport. Thus, while economies of scale are taken into consideration to determine the number of ground handlers required per airport, their small numbers ensure increase in efficiency and manageability of the security processes.

Readers familiar with the ground handling industry can well understand the functions involved in this sensitive industry. These begin right from receiving the aircraft through marshalling, putting chocks to block the wheels, opening of the aircraft belly, fixing sophisticated conveyer belts for unloading and loading the baggage from and in to the aircraft, carting baggage from make-up area to the aircraft and from aircraft to baggage break-up, attaching step ladders to the aircraft, replenishing potable water in the aircraft, cleaning of lavatories with modern pressure equipment, suction of the waste from the aircraft, busing of passengers and the crew members, complete cabin cleaning inside the aircraft and readying the aircraft for its next destination. Inside the terminal building, the Ground Handling activities involve facilitating passengers and queue combing at the counters. For all these activities, GH involves the participation of highly-qualified staff who have complete knowledge not only of various check-in systems but also possess knowhow on how to receive passengers at counters for boarding cards and receiving baggage. The GH staff also facilitate the passengers through immigration, Customs and up to the security hold area from where the passenger finally boards the aircraft. After all these activities are completed the flight turnaround supervisor provides the load and trip sheet to the pilot and then give the go-ahead for aircraft push-back for its onward journey. This highly specialized and processed driven industry needs ecofriendly next-generation equipment positioned at the airports to handle such assignments.

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