While SITA’s 2018 baggage report shows that fewer bags than ever were mishandled last year, 100% bag tracking promises to deliver even greater improvement and accuracies to handling rates.
The good news for passengers is that in 2017 airlines around the world have once again improved the rate of baggage delivery.
According to the SITA 2018 Baggage Report, last year the industry continued an improvement trend of more than a decade which has seen baggage mishandling drop by 70% since 2007. This tremendous improvement has been driven by process changes and the use of new technology.
The growth in passenger numbers globally continues to put considerable pressure on the industry’s baggage systems and processes and with the rise to more than
4 billion passengers in 2017, the airlines did well to reduce the rate of mishandled bags. In fact, at 5.57 per thousand passengers it was the lowest level ever recorded.
But despite the improvement, mishandled bags still cost the industry an estimated US$2.3 billion in 2017 and the focus in the industry remains firmly on further reducing the rate in the next few years.
One area that promises to deliver considerable cost savings is from airline investments in end-to-end bag tracking.
Peter Drummond, Director, Baggage Solutions, SITA, said: “Over the last decade, we have seen significant improvements in bag management as airlines have taken advantage of technology. Now with IATA’s drive for 100% bag tracking, technology adoption will rise further. End-to-end tracking produces data which reveals where improvements can be made in operational processes. While we won’t see a sudden change in 2018, it is a real turning point for the industry as airlines begin to unlock the value of the tracking data for the billions of bags they carry.”
In terms of IATA Resolution 753, every bag will be tracked at check-in, loading onto the aircraft, transfer and arrival. Tracking bags at each of these four points and sharing this data across all stakeholders will allow airports and airlines to identify where each bag is on its journey. It will also help identify bags likely to be mishandled enabling intervention to ensure they are on the right flight.
Peter Drummond said: “IATA’s resolution has brought a sharp focus on the potential for further improvements in accurate baggage handling rates. We at SITA have taken up the challenge and are helping our members and the wider industry quickly and effectively meet these new tracking requirements. Working with our industry partners, we have developed new economical infrastructure enhancements for SITA BagJourney.”
These include a choice of handheld devices for scanning or scanning arches that are quick to install. These are interfaced with SITA’s proven BagJourney solution, allowing the tracking data recorded at each point to be shared with the relevant airline, airport or ground handling agent.
“Each airline and airport has different needs so we have ensured that the various hardware options are easily integrated into our BagJourney solution for fast implementation. We have worked with various airlines to trial these solutions and ensure that they are robust and meet the needs of the airline and airport,” Drummond added.
The latest additions to the long list of BagJourney customers include Caribbean airline and SITA member Bahamasair, which trialed SITA’s handheld devices. The trial was such a success, that the units were rolled out to 24 airports across the airline’s network.
Another long-time user of SITA's baggage solutions, Middle East Airlines (MEA) has also renewed its baggage contract to include BagJourney.
Adib Charif, Head of IT at MEA said: “SITA has been the recognized leader in bag tracking and tracing for more than 25 years with its systems in every major airport in the world. BagJourney is a great example of their constant development of solutions to meet with the changing needs of the industry.
While SITA’s current focus is helping the industry put the tracking points in place, Drummond points out that the real value lies in the data collected at these points.
“On any flight, baggage changes hands several times, from ground handler or airport, to the airline, potentially to another airline and then back to the airport or ground handler at the destination.
“Therefore, it is vital that there is clear communication and co-ordination between these parties to ensure that the bag arrives at the destination.
AI-enabled baggage management it is important that the right data around baggage is shared effectively with the various stakeholders. “One of the key elements we at SITA are focused on is ensuring we develop the most effective framework to share baggage data across the industry.”