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Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different
airport ground handling models.






Every countries’ airport ground handling may differ
from one another. Majority of the countries are managing their own airports
ground handling operations by either U.S model, EU model or Third-party model.
This report is to show the comparison of U.S model, EU model and Third-party
model. In addition, also discussing on Changi Airport, Singapore’s ground
handling system.



the key ground handling models are used around the world



Ground handing is one of the major key activities for
airport operation. The ground handling can be defined as the myriad of services
provided to an aircraft in preparation for pre-take-off and post-landing of a
flight. Also, not forgetting of those activities carried out before the
aircraft arrives at a terminal gate, those provided during the time the
aircraft is at the gate and those which are accomplished after the aircraft has
departed for its next flight. The ground handling varies in all the countries
and it is also not the same in multiple airports within a same country. Ground
handling operation is advancing due to increasing numbers of air travel


There are three main models that are used around the
world for ground handling; U.S model, EU model and Third-party model. Below is
a simplified structure of the ground handling markets.


















1: Simplified Structure Model (



Firstly, U.S model is very different since small
portion of ground handling is performed by independent organisations. Majority
of the ground handlings carried out in the U.S is managed by dedicated airline
such as United Airline and American Airline. This does not mean that all U.S airport
operates this way, there are other companies out there like Swissport. In
recent days, Swissport Ground Handling business provides passengers and ramp
handling more than 220 stations globally and also providing their services to
more than 224 million passengers in a year. In today world, Swissport is also
known as a huge ground handler with plenty of hubs and low-cost carrier bases
internationally. Below are some of the services Swissport provide.


Passenger Services

Ticketing Sales Desk
and Transfer Services
Passenger Services
and Found Services
Passenger and VIP Services

Aircraft Servicing and Ramp Handling

Sorting and Transportation
Load Device Control
and Water Services


Hence, US model basically means that the airlines are
heavily involved in the ground handling activities. The airline will provide
services and equipment for themselves.


Secondly, mentioning about EU model for ground
handling, it is not the same as U.S model. Initially for EU model, airport will
operate their ground handling services by itself which is different from US
model where airlines will run their ground handling services. This will be like
a monopoly game as previously it was the norm for ground handling activities in
EU airports. Most of the airlines was unsatisfied for the steep costs and the
lack of quality services. Thus, the European Commission (EC) came up with rules
to reduce and try to put an end to monopolies in EU ground handling activities.
EU models will be under airport authority and which they will be managed by the
government. This allows free contest for most of the ground handling activates
at EU airports, leading in more options for airlines. Having more choices for
airlines means that the service levels will be improved and the fares for
passenger will be lower. In addition, for those services like baggage handling,
ramp handling, fuelling and freight services, the Member State might keep a cap
for number of suppliers.


Thirdly, talking about Third-party model, it will be the
combination of one airline providing ground handling service for another
airline and independent company; can be either the airport operator, or another
airline or an independent ground handling company providing ground handling
service simultaneously. ASIG (Aircraft Service International Group) is one of
the largest independent ground handling company originally established in 1947,
it provides a large range of ground handling, fuelling and airport facility
services across North America, Europe, Asia and Central America. ASIG’s parent
group is Menzies Aviation Group. Airports that ground handling operate by ASIG
can be seen in the figure below.
































Figure 2: Airports supplied with ground handling
services by ASIG (



Hence, from the above figure we can see that ASIG
provides ground handling services to a great number of airports. Majority of
the airports are using Third-party model for their ground handling activities,
it will be more common in EU rather than in US since US uses more of their
major airline’s ground handling service for their airports.





the relationship between airport and airlines


Previously, before World War II, there was no or low
demand for air travel compare to post war. However, after the war, things have changed
thus infrastructures and lifestyle became better. Allowing more and more
civilians joining the Air Force which leads them to have vital skills such as
flying. This resulting the evolution of leisure travel and holidays, causing the
number of air travel passenger to increase significantly over the years. Hence,
airports need to work out on their operations in order to cater for the increasing
numbers of air travel passenger. The figure below will give a rough idea on the
growth rate of air travel increases over the decades.














3: Revenue passenger kilometres from 1945-2012 (CNN/ICAO)


Airlines and Airport must work closely together as they
are interdependent. By working together, they can satisfy air passenger/consumer
and will have a better prospect together. Which basically means that airport
will earn from airlines, whereas for airlines they will earn from air passengers.
Airport will earn their profits from airlines by the costs and charges that airlines
have to pay for. Some examples will be:

·       Use
of runways and landing fees

·       Security

·       Passenger

·       Parking
and boarding access charges

·       Air
Traffic Control

·       Environmental
charges, etc.

On the contrary, for airlines, they will earn their
profits from air travellers/cargo suppliers. Thus, both airport and airlines have
common interest like quality services for air passenger, flights that depart or
arrive on time, facilities and cost that can be improved on to meet passengers’
expectation. Hence, airport and airlines have to work hand-in-hand as their reputation
is interdependent.

Incheon international airport will be a great example
of how they meet their objective and successes the challenges. As of December 2015,
they have approximately 90 airlines running at the airport, connecting 186 cities
in 54 countries. Hence, the airport could name itself as the hub of international
air transportation in Northeast Asia.

In addition, airport can improve their relationship
with airlines by cutting down the operational cost, at the same time still providing
the same or higher quality of service. This can be done by having more Third-party
ground handling companies and allowing airlines to have their own preference
for their Third-party ground handling company. Better Third-party ground
handling company might help the airlines to save ground activities time, which allows
flights to depart on time. This resulting airline to save cost and having more
profits at the same time.



the advantages and disadvantages of different airport ground handling models


U.S mode


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