The transition in ground handling services to two new companies, BidAir Services and Menzies Aviation, at all ten airports owned and managed by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) got off to a good start this past weekend.
On Friday (29 February 2008), Equity Aviation’s final day of operations, ACSA’s contingency plan was activated as the company had anticipated change-over problems. For example, on the day, certain Equity Aviation staff did not show up for work while some of those at work were going about their duties slowly.
ACSA had arranged with BidAir Services and Menzies Aviation to fill-in where Equity Aviation staff were unavailable, work alongside the sluggish ones as well as swiftly address challenges whenever they arose.
On Saturday and Sunday, some 1600 aircraft movements and over 200 000 passengers were handled. There were challenges in certain areas and at some of the airports where in some instances passengers were delayed either at baggage re-claim or bussing gates.
“It must be appreciated that the switch-over to BidAir and Menzies on 1 March 2008 was always going to be an enormous and exigent task. The days that follow will be equally challenging as operations begin to normalise. We have planned for every possible eventuality but we know it is inevitable that there will be challenges because of the dynamic nature of airport operations.
“ACSA will continue monitoring the situation and work closely with all stakeholders as Menzies and BidAir adapt to the new requirements. It is through accuracy, speed and efficiency that they will be able to minimize the turnaround time and improve overall passenger experience. I am confident that these start-up challenges will be over soon,” said Bongani Maseko, Director of Operations at ACSA.
He added: “In the final analysis, we find the manner in which Menzies and BidAir responded to the challenges very refreshing. As we expect of our business partners, they engaged with other stakeholders and took accountability as required, which is only possible through appropriate work ethos.
“We commend the management team and staff of both companies. The best equipment alone is not enough to see our business through such a change-over. It is people and management practices that make the real difference on the ground. Very soon the change-over will be behind us and passengers will be increasingly able to enjoy the benefits of these new partnerships."
BidAir and Menzies’ focus is, amongst others, on the following areas:
- Efficient processing of passengers;
- Improved on-time departures by reducing flight delays caused by poor logistical arrangements;
- Safe operations on airside in terms of baggage delivery, catering, stairs, etc;
- New, air conditioned safety compliant busses;
- Superior communication with passengers in the event of operational anomalies through:
- Ensuring staff presence at baggage reclaim areas and at lost & found baggage;
- Prominently displaying contact number of supervisors on the floor;
- Setting up a call centre to manage customer complaints and enquiries;
- Greater transparency on performance regarding mishandled, pilfered and lost baggage.
This morning’s peak traffic, which ended around 10 o’clock, was a true test. About 550 flights and more than 35000 passengers were handled across ACSA’s network of airports this morning. Operational challenges were experienced on certain flights, less so than over the past weekend though, and the situation is improving.
For enquiries, contact:
Airports Company South Africa
Mobile: 082 781 8863