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New landscape in baggage management

Published on  02 December by Nick Gates , Portfolio Director, SITA
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A new IATA resolution is creating waves in the baggage management community; the landscape is set to change dramatically.

What’s happening?

IATA has announced a new resolution (“Reso 753”) for its member airlines which comes into effect in 2018. Essentially, it requires IATA member airlines to monitor and log the status of its passengers’ bags through the major stages of the bags’ journey. One of the biggest consequences will be that inbound (arrival bags) will need to be more actively tracked/monitored.

Why is it happening?

Ultimately, the aim is to keep passengers happy. The number of mishandled bags will reduce as the location of each is recorded when bags change custody, particularly when bags are delivered to the passenger (arrival), and when bags are delivered to the aircraft (departure).

There will be upsides for airlines and airports too. More accurate baggage information helps to speed up reconciliation and flight readiness for departing flights. It also helps measure how baggage handling is performing against how well it’s meant to perform for both departure and arrival bags. Everybody wins.

Who needs to make changes?

Clearly, IATA’s member airlines will be affected but so too airports and ground handlers. By 2018, airports will need to have the IT systems and infrastructure in place to be ready to support the airlines which need to comply. This means that all airports (existing or new) will need to assess whether they have the appropriate baggage infrastructure to be able the support the requirements of this resolution.

Baggage is handled by many different parties throughout the process. Bags will need to be tracked by either automated readers or staff using mobile handheld devices. Other technology such as GSM/GPS-enabled devices, RFID and beacons could also be used.

What is the current situation at airports?

Some airports already have a high level of tracking throughout their terminals. A good example is Heathrow Airport, London which has the ability to track baggage across the whole airport.

Italy’s largest airport, Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport Rome, is another good example; here, SITA has installed readers to track bags and implemented our bag reconciliation, messaging and management systems. In just two years, mishandling rates for airlines using the airport were reduced by 70 per cent with 360,000 fewer bags mishandled at the airport- and estimated savings to airlines of US$36m dollars.

How can SITA help?

SITA already offers many solutions that will enable all players to meet the demands of the resolution. BagManager, for one, keeps track of when bags exchange hands between airlines and ground handlers, as well as airlines and airports, it is able to handle the tracking and monitoring of departure and arrival bags, supporting interfaces to automated baggage tag readers. In addition, BagJourney tracks passengers’ bags for the entire journey and makes the information available to airlines and airports via a Web application programming interface (API).

The community of airports, airlines, ground handlers and suppliers like SITA must work together to ensure we have invested the time to put these systems into place beforehand. The sooner the better.

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