More travellers but fewer baggage problems

More travellers but fewer baggage problems

SINGAPORE - There have been fewer incidents of checked-in bags being delayed, lost or damaged at Changi Airport, even as global rates climb.

Ground-handling firm Dnata said that in the last three years, the rate of mishandled bags has been on the decline.

Last year, the firm achieved a record low of 0.01 per cent of bags that were mishandled, which translates into fewer than one mishandled bag for every 10,000 that go through the system.

The chief executive officer of the firm's Singapore operations, Mr Mark Edwards, said: "We are off to a good start for 2015 as well.

"In the last three months, we reported fewer than 40 mishandled baggage across all our airline customers."

Changi's biggest ground-handling firm, Sats, which reported 0.19 mishandled bag per 10,000 passengers in 2012, did not provide data for the last two years but said the numbers were lower than in 2012.

Globally, growing passenger numbers have put pressure on existing systems, said technology firm Sita in its annual baggage survey.

Last year, there were 7.3 mishandled bags - delayed, damaged, pilfered, lost or stolen - per 1,000 passengers.

A record low of 6.96 was reached in 2013.

About half of the incidents occurred during transit when bags were moved from one aircraft to another, sometimes within tight time constraints.

Despite the less-than-stellar global performance last year, the industry has cut the rate of mishandled bags by more than 61 per cent since 2007, said Sita.

Its chief executive officer, Mr Francesco Violante, said the improvement has been due mainly to investments in technology and innovation.

All industry partners will need to continue to invest, collaborate and focus on baggage management as traffic numbers increase, he said.

Sats senior vice-president for apron services Denis Marie said that to keep its baggage mishandling numbers down, the company is using data analytics to identify which routes carry passengers who tend to have more bags and put in resources to better manage these flights.

Bags are also tracked in real time.

Dnata, which introduced a new baggage management and reconciliation system more than two years ago, is now able to better track its bags and react quicker when things go wrong, Mr Edwards said.

In the end, though, baggage handling is still primarily a function that relies on people, he said.

"While there is technology, such as belts for transportation and X-rays for screening, the movement of the bags from airport to aircraft remains a manual process," he said.

He added that Dnata staff are trained to ensure bags are handled as they should be. Training includes learning the proper way to stack bags and carry them.

Housewife Annie Sim, 33, who once had her bag delayed at Bangkok's airport by more than three hours, said: "It's a horrible feeling, standing at the belt and seeing everyone leave with their bags and yours never comes. There's no better way to spoil a trip."

LOW NUMBERS

- Ground-handling firm Dnata said that in the last three years, the rate of mishandled bags has been on the decline. Last year, the firm achieved a record low of 0.01 per cent of bags that were mishandled, which translates into fewer than one mishandled bag for every 10,000 that go through the system.

- Globally, growing passenger numbers have put pressure on existing systems, said technology firm Sita in its annual baggage survey. Last year, there were 7.3 mishandled bags - delayed, damaged, pilfered, lost or stolen - per 1,000 passengers. A record low of 6.96 was reached in 2013.

karam@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 10, 2015.
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