Al­most un­no­ticed but vi­tal to safety

THE SURGE IN THE NUM­BER OF DO­MES­TIC AND IN­TER­NA­TIONAL FLIGHTS HAS SHARPLY BOOSTED THE GROUND HAN­DLING BUSI­NESS

The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - Contents - THE JAKARTA POST/JAKARTA

The ground han­dling busi­ness in the coun­try’s air­ports has recorded remarkable growth in the past sev­eral years amid the sharp in­crease in the num­ber of air­lines in the do­mes­tic avi­a­tion mar­ket.

The sharp in­crease in air traf­fic in the coun­try’s ma­jor air­ports has re­sulted in an in­crease in the num­ber of ground han­dling com­pa­nies, which of­fer a wide range of ser­vices needed by an air­craft soon af­ter it ar­rives at an air­port and be­fore it de­parts on an­other flight.

The ser­vices of­fered by ground han­dling com­pa­nies range from cabin ser­vice, cater­ing and air cargo han­dling to ser­vices at the ramp or apron such as guid­ing the air­craft into and out of the park­ing po­si­tion and lug­gage han­dling or even pro­vid­ing check-in counter ser­vices for pas­sen­gers de­part­ing on the cus­tomer air­lines.

The ser­vices of ground han­dling com­pa­nies of­ten go un­no­ticed but they are vi­tal in en­sur­ing flight safety, on-time per­for­mance and cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. To put it sim­ply, safe and en­joy­able flights are de­pen­dent on good ground han­dling ser­vices .

With its huge pop­u­la­tion and the rapid growth in air­line oper­a­tions, air trans­porta­tion in In­done­sia has in­creased

sharply in the past five years. The In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion (IATA) es­ti­mates that the num­ber of air­line pas­sen­gers in In­done­sia will in­crease by about 132 mil­lion to 219 mil­lion by 2034 from about 87 mil­lion in 2014. This sharp in­crease in pas­sen­ger num­bers will turn In­done­sia into the world’s fifth largest travel mar­ket in the world in the next 20 years.

The surge in the num­ber of do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional flights in the last five years has sharply boosted the ground han­dling busi­ness. Al­though the num­ber of com­pa­nies in­volved in ground han­dling ser­vices has grown sharply in re­cent years, the coun­try’s ground han­dling busi­ness mar­ket is still dom­i­nated by a few com­pa­nies such as Jasa Angkasa Semesta (JAS) and Ga­pura Angkasa.

JAS and Ga­pura pri­mar­ily serve most in­ter­na­tional air­lines that fly into ma­jor In­done­sian air­ports, with Ga­pura be­ing no­table for serv­ing flag car­rier Garuda In­done­sia and its sub­sidiary Ci­tilink.

Both com­pa­nies have earned a rep­u­ta­tion among do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional air­lines as prob­a­bly the two most re­li­able ground han­dling providers that In­done­sia’s air­ports have to of­fer. They are also the only two ground han­dling ser­vices in In­done­sia that op­er­ate with IATA’s Safety Au­dit and Ground Op­er­a­tion (ISAGO) cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

In its 30 years of oper­a­tions JAS pri­mar­ily has served 30 in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic car­ri­ers that fly to In­done­sia’s main air­ports, no­tably han­dling lug­gage, ground con­trol, cater­ing (through its sis­ter com­pany), lounge man­age­ment and cargo han­dling.

Its clients range from pre­mium car­ri­ers such as Sin­ga­pore Air­lines, Turkish Air­ways, Emi­rates and Cathay Pa­cific, to low-cost car­ri­ers such as AirAsia, Tiger Air­ways and Sri­wi­jaya Air.

“By han­dling so many in­ter­na­tional car­ri­ers, we’ve be­come familiar with many dif­fer­ent sys­tems, thereby en­abling us to ac­com­mo­date the needs and stan­dards of a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­na­tional air­line when it lands here,” JAS pres­i­dent director Adji Kur­ni­awan said in an in­ter­view with The Jakarta Post.

JAS pas­sen­ger ser­vices are avail­able in 12 air­ports na­tion­wide, along with cargo oper­a­tions in five ma­jor air­ports in­clud­ing Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Bali’s Ngu­rah Rai In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Medan’s Kualanamu In­ter­na­tional Air­port and Surabaya’s Juanda In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Ga­pura mean­while, op­er­ates an ex­ten­sive net­work, serv­ing 54 cities across the na­tion, with in­ter­na­tional clients such as Air China, China Air­lines, Thai Air­ways, Qatar Air­ways, Malaysia Air­lines and Qan­tas.

Ga­pura pres­i­dent director Agus Priyanto ex­plained that it was up to the air­lines to choose which ground han­dling ser­vice providers they wanted to work with.

“In some cases, such as Qatar Air­ways, JAS would serve them at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta, while we would serve them at Denpasar’s Ngu­rah Rai. It is ul­ti­mately up to the air­line to de­cide who they want to be han­dled by,” he said in a re­cent in­ter­view with the Post.

The govern­ment is closely mon­i­tor­ing the ground han­dling ser­vices at lo­cal air­ports to en­sure the ser­vices pro­vided by the lo­cal com­pa­nies are on a par with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. One of the govern­ment’s reg­u­la­tions, for ex­am­ple, lim­its the equip­ment age to be­tween 10 and 15 years, de­pend­ing on the type of equip­ment.

In a world that has an in­creas­ing de­pen­dency on tech­nol­ogy, JAS pres­i­dent Adji said the rule could po­ten­tially hold back the oper­a­tions of the ground han­dling in­dus­try as it would be in­ef­fi­cient to re­place oth­er­wise fully func­tion­ing equip­ment when it has merely reached 10 years of age.

How­ever de­spite his view, JAS sup­ports the govern­ment’s reg­u­la­tions.

Re­gard­ing the state of the ground han­dling in­dus­try and the pos­si­bil­ity of com­pe­ti­tion from other han­dling com­pa­nies, Adji said that as long as air­ports and air­lines were aware of the cer­ti­fied play­ers in the coun­try, then the in­dus­try would not be dam­aged.

In terms of com­pe­ti­tion, he added, there was a ten­dency for smaller, re­gional air­ports to en­list the ser­vices of “un­cer­ti­fied” lo­cal ground han­dling com­pa­nies. But with­out cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, it is al­most cer­tain that their

oper­a­tions will fiz­zle out in time, due to the in­creas­ing de­mand for higher stan­dards of ser­vice.

“I’m op­ti­mistic about the state of the ground han­dling busi­ness at the mo­ment. As long as in­ter­na­tional car­ri­ers fly to In­done­sia, they will re­quest the as­sis­tance of trusted ground han­dling staff here, and we have al­ways been ready to pro­vide that ser­vice when­ever needed,” he said.

Mean­while, in or­der to main­tain the strength and re­li­a­bil­ity of the in­dus­try, Agus said some prob­lems faced by the in­dus­try needed to be fixed and ad­dressed through the use of new tech­nol­ogy and through innovation in ex­ist­ing op­er­a­tional stan­dards.

Re­gard­ing innovation, Agus out­lined that one as­pect that should be im­me­di­ately tack­led is the lack of in­te­grated com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween ground han­dling staff and the air nav­i­ga­tion.

In or­der to help com­mu­ni­ca­tion to be­come more ef­fi­cient, Ga­pura is test­ing out a new sys­tem that en­ables the con­troller to track air­craft ground move­ments in real time from the com­fort of the com­pany’s of­fice, Agus said.

“Our new Op­er­at­ing Con­trol Sys­tem has been on trial since Oc­to­ber last year at Soekarno-Hatta air­port, in or­der to im­prove the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the traf­fic con­trol tower and the ground han­dling crew. Over­all, this kind of innovation re­quires some time to be im­ple­mented in air­ports be­cause it chal­lenges the usual busi­ness process, but it is def­i­nitely worth it,” he said.

Within that tar­get of sus­tain­ing the in­dus­try’s strength, Agus said that Ga­pura would aim to achieve Rp 1.5 tril­lion (US$114 mil­lion) in rev­enue by the end of 2016, a fig­ure that is not that much higher than its 2015 achieve­ment of Rp 1.4 tril­lion.

“The fo­cus will be on the do­mes­tic mar­ket for now, be­cause that’s where growth is the high­est,“he said, adding that with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the ASEAN Open Sky Pol­icy, Ga­pura had ac­cess to en­ter the ground han­dling mar­ket in other ASEAN mem­ber coun­tries. But the most im­por­tant thing for Ga­pura is to im­prove the qual­ity of its ser­vices in or­der to be able to main­tain its mar­ket share. Only through good qual­ity could lo­cal ground han­dling com­pa­nies pre­vent their ASEAN peers pro­vid­ing ser­vices in the coun­try.

JP/Ricky Yud­hi­s­tira Fresh from the oven: Work­ers pre­pare in-flight meals at the Aero­food ACS cater­ing fa­cil­ity at Ngu­rah Rai In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

JP/Jerry Adi­guna This way: An air­craft mar­shaller guides an air­craft at Ngu­rah Rai In­ter­na­tional Air­port. The ground han­dling busi­ness has grown rapidly in re­cent years due to a sharp in­crease in the num­ber of new air­planes in the coun­try.

An­tara

Just ar­rived: Work­ers un­load cargo from a Lufthansa air­plane at the Soekarno-Hatta In­ter­na­tional Air­port. The Ger­man air­line is among the ma­jor in­ter­na­tional air­lines serv­ing the Frank­furt-Jakarta route.

JP/Lucky R Small re­pairs: A fe­male me­chanic con­ducts re­pair work at the fourth hangar of the Garuda Main­te­nance Fa­cil­ity (GMF) in Tangerang, Ban­ten. The de­mand for air­craft tech­ni­cians has in­creased sharply in re­cent years amid the coun­try’s rapidly grow­ing air­line busi­ness.

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