/ 25 February 2008

Airlines move to new baggage handlers

More than 95% of airlines operating in the country have signed contracts with two new baggage handlers, the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) said on Monday.

”We can confirm over 95% of our customers have signed with Menzies and BidAir,” said Acsa spokesperson Solomon Mokgale.

He said the change in handlers ”was an opportunity to address the service level we have been so rightly criticised for”.

The new handlers offer a range of services, from providing infrastructure, ramps and boarding gates to conveyor systems.

”We have signed a service-level agreement with Acsa as handlers. If we fall below expectations, they can terminate our services,” said Bob Gurr, senior executive at BidAir.

The handlers will be required to submit quarterly service and customer experience reports for Acsa to assess the performance of the new licensees.

Menzies Aviation Africa director Forsyth Black said: ”In South Africa, we are new kids on the block; but certainly not world-wide.” Menzies services 129 airports around the world and has an annual aircraft turnaround figure of 400 000.

Black said Menzies had been working very closely with former handlers Swissport and Equity Aviation in the run-up to the hand over. ”They have been very cooperative and we are very grateful,” he said.

Between them, BidAir and Menzies have invested more than R420-million in new equipment and training, and both lent their infrastructure to outgoing service providers when they found themselves short of equipment.

BidAir will be handling, among others, ComAir, kulula.com, Lufthansa and SwissAir. Menzies won contracts for other airlines including SA Express, Cathay Pacific, Ethiopia Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and British Airways.

Tender processes for a third licence are under way, Acsa said. — Sapa