Operating under intense time pressure, they coordinate a whole host of activities, from managing baggage and catering, to load planning, dealing with disruption and sending operational updates. Partnering with numerous airlines and teams simultaneously means constantly juggling competing demands with limited resources, while working within strict parameters and performance targets.
But despite their hard work and the value they bring, ground handlers are struggling with diminishing profits, driven by rising fuel prices, stiff competition and a pressure on costs. Plus, with short-term contracts becoming the norm, planning and investing for the future are frequently seen as risks not worth taking.
While many of these issues may be out of their control, one area where ground handling teams do have the power to differentiate themselves is in their own systems and processes, many of which haven’t changed for 20 years or more, including:
Outdated tech: It isn’t unusual for ground handling teams to rely on outdated legacy systems, such as email, Word, walkie-talkie and even Telex, when collaborating with their teams and stakeholders. But these tools are actually making life more difficult, causing delays, mistakes, repetition and inconsistencies in communication, ultimately impacting performance and the passenger experience.
Reporting headaches: Ground handling professionals are bogged down with reporting demands, including end of shift handovers that can take two hours or more to produce. Think of the time that could be saved if reports were generated automatically and instantly shared with the relevant people?
Lost in the ether: The popularity of legacy tools means flight and passenger details are exchanged and stored within a multitude of emails and Word documents - or simply lost in the ether – so finding information at a later date is like searching for a needle in a haystack.
Overcomplicated complaints: Having no central log of information also impacts complaints handling, leaving customer service teams scrabbling around for the details they need to resolve passenger issues. Investigating complaints often involves numerous calls to the relevant individuals to discover what happened during a particular event, sucking valuable time from teams across the whole ecosystem.
Meeting madness: Known the world over as a huge productivity drain, nonetheless meetings do have their place – when managed effectively. But factor in time creating agendas, then writing up reports and before you know it, you’ve lost hours that could be much better spent.
Never-ending email trails: Email is great in some situations, but when you’re sending important updates to numerous respondents, then tracking or collating responses, it can quickly get out of control. Surely there has to be a way of avoiding email trail hell?
Many of these practices may well be ingrained in ground handling operations, but if not addressed now, they will continue to impact performance and profits, while also limiting the ability to offer joined up services across the whole air transport ecosystem.
Yet, with just a little bit of investment, overhauling these productivity pain points will help ground handlers to reduce costs, squeeze more out of their resources and boost that all-important bottom-line.
Deolan’s Logbook is designed to combat many of the biggest productivity drains in air transport by providing a single platform where teams can log, share and access flight and passenger details, via an intuitive social media style dashboard. With everything stored in one place, reporting and meetings become fast and efficient, handling complaints is a breeze, plus you can rest assured that the days of trawling through emails are well and truly over.