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London Gatwick Airport

We wanted the most up-to-date functionality which is why we stayed with SITA. We have a single interface, secondary screening support, excellent reporting and of course the reliability goes without saying.

Ian Envis, Airline Operators Committee, London Gatwick
29 June 2009

London Gatwick is one of over 70 airports around the world which has integrated SITA’s BagManager software into their systems to ensure bags are loaded onto the right aircraft with the right passenger at the right time. After four successful years, the Gatwick airline community has extended its agreement with SITA to further enhance baggage management.

London Gatwick Airport

Gatwick is the busiest single runway airport in the world, the UK’s second busiest airport and Europe’s sixth busiest airport in terms of international traffic.

Gatwick is a customer-oriented business and having won best UK airport awards for the last five years, is dedicated to meeting the needs of the 35 million passengers a year it handles. With this in mind Gatwick needed a powerful, seamless, global baggage management system for optimal efficiency and chose SITA as its partner for the job. The airport has been successfully using SITA’s application in a project valued at US$7million.

The business issue

Passengers’ hate losing their luggage and make informed travel choices based – at least in part – on how likely they are to be reunited with their bags on arrival. Long-term growth in passenger numbers, tight turnaround times, the need to control costs and ever-tighter security regulations make baggage handling more of a priority than ever – and more of a challenge to get it right.

Incorrectly handled baggage costs the air transport industry close to US$3billion a year, so a good baggage management solution is not only critical to improving customer service and enhancing the overall customer experience but also to controlling costs.

As part of the contract renewal, Gatwick wanted to further enhance the functionality of its baggage management system and looked to SITA for a new management tool that allowed for the control and recording of secondary screening by x-ray for ‘rush bags’. Additionally, British Airways, one of the top three airlines operating at the airport, was also looking to upgrade its own baggage reconciliation system.

SITA’s solution was already proven for Gatwick’s original considerations. Firstly, under UK law, any system in use at the airport must be AAA-compliant (Accounting and Authorization of Hold Baggage for carriage by Air). Second, Gatwick is a near 24/7 operation, with multiple ground-handling agents needing a solution which is not just technically and operationally reliable but is also functionally flexible.

“We were very impressed by the quality of the SITA people, especially at a local level” says Gatwick’s Ian Envis, who has played a key role throughout the project and is responsible for security at the Airline Operators Committee (AOC). “They came up with a bold, innovative package, delivered with total honesty and openness and we’ve enjoyed a very strong line management and contractual engagement with SITA all along. SITA has gone the extra mile to meet our needs.”


Designed to meet the needs of today’s high-pressure airport environment, SITA’s BagManager seamlessly integrates a wide range of handling, security and flight information systems, airport information display systems, resource management systems and airport operational databases – gathering data every step of the way, so that a bag’s location can always be pinpointed.

In addition, the solution for Gatwick also integrates BagManager with SITA’s BagMessage and WorldTracer systems to receive advance information about bags (via Baggage Information Message), and to provide information about delayed and mishandled bags.

At Gatwick, BagManager allows the four ground handlers – British Airways, Menzies, Servisair and Swissport – as well as any of the airlines using the airport to run an automated baggage reconciliation system using some 450 wireless handheld scanners.

“We wanted the most up-to-date functionality which is why we stayed with SITA,” continues AOC’s Ian Envis. “We have a single interface, secondary screening support, excellent reporting and of course the reliability goes without saying."

Gatwick now has a campus-wide system, and with BA being brought onboard there has been a 25% increase in demand on hardware and throughput. We were confident that SITA could handle this and they have done it.”

The SITA baggage management system also features a built-in re-flighting module. Re-flighting redirects a bag which has missed its flight by loading it onto an alternative flight while producing a new tag and sending a message about the change to the BagMessage and WorldTracer systems. BagManager also integrates directly with flight information display systems for the latest updates on aircraft loading, and can be linked to security systems to verify screening of bags compliant with the UK Government-mandated Hold Baggage Screening system.

Real-time information about the location of each bag allows for quick off-loading in the case of no-shows and minimizes pushback delays and related airport charges. BagManager can run on common use terminal equipment (CUTE) at check-in counters and gates, and can communicate with departure control. It can also be used to plan the optimum use of ground and baggage handling resources to facilitate the movement of transfer baggage.

“We’re delighted that Gatwick has chosen to continue partnering with SITA,” says Rob Watkins, SITA’s Vice-President for Northern Europe. “We’ve enjoyed a close working relationship with both the AOC and the ground handlers to understand the airport’s requirements for baggage management and I’m proud to say hat Gatwick has an operational system which has comfortably scaled up to meet growth demands and will continue to do so in the future.”

Business benefits

Among many benefits, the baggage management system installed at Gatwick offers:

  • Lower costs by reducing the numbers of mishandled bags and by reducing on-stand time for aircraft that need bags offloaded
  • Improved customer service, by minimizing baggage handling errors and misdirected baggage
  • Improved staff effectiveness, by providing real-time information when it’s needed
  • Improved baggage control, by tracking and recording the location of every bag within an airport and across multiple airports
  • Tighter security, by ensuring that passengers and their baggage travel together

SITA's Baggage Management solution

There are three core modules:

  • BagManager, which employs technologies like bar-coding and hand-held scanners to keep a constant track of bag movements
  • BagMessage, which provides a secure platform for the exchange of information between multiple Departure Control Systems (DCSs) and baggage handling and reconciliation systems
  • WorldTracer, the industry-standard global baggage tracing system already used by more than 440 airlines and ground-handlers worldwide

Combined, these systems form a powerful, seamless global baggage management suite delivering optimal efficiency, along with both time and money savings.

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