Bags on the move

Andrew Price, Head of Airport Operations Management, IATA

Airlines tell us that the cost of handling a bag correctly is about US$10, while the cost of mishandling a bag is about US$100. That’s a huge penalty cost for a simple error.

We want to help control those costs, which is why we have a baggage program called End-to-End Baggage Capability, or eBC. It aims to introduce five common capabilities:

  • Identification – the ability to identify a bag uniquely and permanently
  • Tracking – through Resolution 753, to be implemented by June 2018
  • XML – driving implementation of the Baggage XML Schema
  • Data sharing – airlines, ground handlers and airports sharing a common set of data
  • Process automation – to reduce costs and improve service

Resolution 753

I want to focus briefly on Resolution 753. This requires that airlines record changes in custody between parties involved in handling a bag.

It requires tracking at three points: at the arrivals reclaim (so you know when the bag has been delivered), at the transfer injects (very important because the first place that a bag goes to when it's being transferred is into the transfer system), and on aircraft load.

A fourth point of record being proposed is when the passenger gives the bag to the airline. And we've also been asked to make this full machine-to-machine communication only.

Implementation guide

An implementation guide will be available via the IATA website in August, which will go through all of the details.

Tracking is a very important element of baggage processing. In the work we do, we’ve seen reductions in mishandling of 30-35% when an airline is able to track bags from end to end. Having that visibility is very important – as is the correct data behind a bag. Hence the other common capabilities I listed above. 

Full visibility

We want to make it impossible to mishandle a bag. Customers should have full visibility of a bag’s location. That should be real or near real time. The airline has to decide what they want to give to their passengers – that's their decision.  But, in principle at least, it should be possible to do that.

We also want to have the bag taking the best route. Does it have to follow the passenger? As long as it ends up where the passenger wants it, when the passenger wants it, perhaps that can be done without necessarily going on the same aircraft, without taking valuable hold space? It means that baggage space becomes a commodity, so that the airlines can develop better business models.

The five capabilities within eBC form the foundation of a world in which we will make it impossible to lose a bag. Where we’ll have full transparency and control of our costs. And where we'll have the possibility of building new and innovative business models. That will lead to a whole range of interesting options in the immediate future. 

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