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A simple, scalable and more affordable baggage reconciliation system allows smaller airports to reduce the number of mishandled bags by up to 20%.

Last year was a difficult year for the air transport industry. Our world changed completely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effects are likely to be long lasting. Regional airports have been hit hard; as airlines scramble to reduce costs, many have resorted to cutting routes to smaller cities. Fewer airlines flying in and out means reduced revenue for the airport. As Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General of ACI World, recently blogged: “The global transportation crisis has exacerbated the shortfall for smaller airports.”

In the face of these immense challenges, smaller airports may not see the need for a baggage reconciliation system (BRS). With only a few million passengers each year, why should these airports be concerned with mishandled bags?

Yet passengers at smaller and regional airports have the same expectations as at larger airports: Their journey is not complete until they grab their bags at their destination airport, and a mishandled bag can really put a damper on their experience.

Not having a baggage reconciliation system can also make an airport less attractive for airlines looking to reduce the cost of mishandled bags. Every mishandled bag costs about $100 to return it to its owner. Even if an airline has a very low mishandled bag rate, costs quickly add up.

And as airlines begin restricting carry-on luggage as an added safety measure, the percentage of passengers who need to check a bag will likely increase from the current 81%, putting additional pressure on baggage systems.

SITA’s annual Baggage IT Insights report sheds some light on the true cost of mishandled baggage: 25.4 million bags were lost or delayed in 2019, resulting in a bill of $2.5 billion. While that number will certainly be lower in 2020 due to the global health crisis, it still represents the many passengers who must deal with their mishandled baggage.

SITA recently launched  a simple, scalable and more affordable version of our leading baggage reconciliation system, SITA Bag Manager, that allows smaller airports to reduce the number of mishandled bags by up to 20% by automating the typically manual process of reconciliation. They can also shore up dwindling revenue; an airport that processes 4 million bags per year could generate approximately $100,000 over the course of five years by implementing SITA Bag Manager Lite.

Airport authorities can use their BRS to monitor the service level agreements they have in place with their ground handlers, and for airport authorities with more than one airport, a BRS gives them the ability to view all airports on a single platform. ​

SITA Bag Manager Lite also provides a cost-effective way for airlines to comply with IATA’s baggage tracking requirements outlined in Resolution 753. Tracking bags at four points across the journey – check-in, loading, transfer and arrival – has shown to significantly reduce mishandling. SITA data shows that where bags are tracked at check-in and loading, mishandling rates for airlines were up to 60% lower.

As the industry begins to recover, the focus will be on getting the biggest return for your digital investment. SITA can help regional airports support their airline and ground handler tenants with baggage management solutions that reduce the number of mishandled bags and their associated costs.

This year has been incredibly difficult, but it has also given us the opportunity to look at new ways to drive improvement and efficiencies to the way airports operate. For regional airports, implementing even the most basic baggage reconciliation system can accelerate recovery by reducing handling errors, increasing operational efficiency, and improving customer satisfaction. 

For more information on how SITA is helping regional airports, visit

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