Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different airport ground

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of
different airport ground handling models
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different airport ground
handling models
The system of airport ground handling is different to each country. The most of
countries are operating airport ground handling system based on U.S model, EU model or
third party model. This report is presenting comparison of U.S model, EU model or Third
party model and also, presents Incheon International airport, South Korea as a part of
analysing which system has been adopted and how ground handling performs.
Figure 1. The scope of Ground handling
Define the key ground handling models are used around the world
One of the key activities for airport operation is ground handling. The ground
handling can be defined as shown
Error: Reference source not found
(Ashford 2013).
The ground handling is different from
country to country and it is also
different to airport to airport within
same country. The ground handling
operation has been developed as air
travel passenger increases and
becoming complex (Mudyawabikwa
There are three major models is used around world for ground handling defined (Ashford
– U.S model
– EU model
– Third party model
U.S model is very unique since small proportion of ground handling is performed by
Table 1 Swissport ground handling service
Figure 2 The simple model (Smith 2001)
independent companies. Most of ground handlings performed in the U.S is managed by
dedicated airline such as United Airline and American Airline (SH&E 2004). It does not
mean all U.S airport runs this way as mentioned before, there are independent companies,
Swissport which does main stream of ground handling in U.S as shown in Error: Reference
source not found (swissport
The Error: Reference source
not found represent simple
ground handling model which
refers to U.S model as airline
takes main role of ground
handling operation (Smith
2001). US model is based on airline ground handling and the airline provide services and
EU model is different to U.S model in terms of operation handler (Ashford 2013).
Figure 3 Ground handling in Europe
Airport runs ground handling service by itself rather than airlines like US model (Jiang
2015). It is monopoly game and airport authority (Ashford 2013). However, ‘European
Commission (EC) has introduced regulations that discourage or prevent monopoly positions
in ground handling’ (Ashford 2013). EU models is based on airport authority which is most
of them are under supervision of government. All the ground handling related service and
equipment is main streamed with airport authority.
Third Party model is more like mixture of both models explained before. One airline
provide ground handling service to another and specialised independent company provides
ground handling service at the same time. The Swissport which is one of major specialised
Figure 4 Airports that ground handling operate by Swissport
independent ground handling company provide most of ground handling service as shown
Error: Reference source not found.
As Error:
source not
map by
airports are
using third party model as their ground handling system and it is more concentrated in EU
compare to US since US airports are more based on their major airline’s ground handling
Figure 5 World passenger air travel by volume, 1950-2012
Explain the relationship between airport and airlines
“Airport managers in the past kept the grass mowed and the lights lit, and negotiated
with the airlines every thirty years.” (Cohen 1985).
The quote above shows role of the
airport as gateway for the air travel
in early stage of air travel era.
However, as air travel passenger
increases significantly over
decades, the airport need to be
restructured how they manage
systems as shown Error: Reference
source not found.
Airlines only stands as client, customer service provider and operator as an airport’s
perspective. But the trend now is heading toward as team player and understand each other’s
business. Airport regularly engage airlines in dialogue on airport operations plans and even
problems through organizing committee for each department of the airport.
There are common interest on both party such as quality service, on time departure, facilities
and cost which can be discussed and improve to satisfy passengers. Now airport reputation is
not only depends on to their own also airlines as well.
Figure 6 A Complex Model with Airports Providing Handling Services
Changi airport is great example of how they successes in this challenges. More than 83
airlines with connected 57 countries is very attractive airport to airlines which they can
organize more joint service and code-share with other airlines (Poh, Eileen 2007).
The perspective from ground handling is following the trend of relations between
airport and airlines. A complex model with airports providing handing services as shown on
Error: Reference source not found allows airlines have their own choice of third party ground
handling companies to cut
down the cost of operation
throughout the
competition. Also, airport,
themselves can offer
contract to specialised
independent companies to
ensure quality of service
and competitive price to cut down running cost of operation.
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different airport ground
handling models
U.S model’s ground handling is heavily depends on airline although it is easier to get
access to equipment and facilities to operate as national player. As Airline Company, they are
willing to limit their expenses. However, it is trade off with time efficiency as airline which
increase aircraft productivity which leads more profits to them. Airline company as operator
of the ground handling, they can planning and design of facilities for their needs
EU model is more depends on airport authority to operate ground handling system,
which increases profit of themselves since it is high cost sector of airline business. With the
profit they made they can re investment to their facilities and increase the quality of service
for passengers while they are staying in the airport. However, since it is operated with one big
organisation, it can be monopoly game which we can learn from investigation into Milan
airport ground handling service by EU commission (EUROPEAN COMMISSION 2014).
Compare your own country’s airport with different models around the
world and identify the model is used at your own country’s airport
Incheon international airport (ICN) is used in this report to analyse ground handling
system and compare with other models.
It is refer to complex model suggested by (Smith 2001) with airport providing
handling services. ICN was constructed near capital city as expansion of international flight
connectivity by government and they established Incheon international airport corporation
(IICN) under the government’s sub-ordinate. It is one of the biggest international airport with
89 airlines and 194 destination airport which is good enough to attract airline as transfer hub.
(IIAC 2015) ICN has subordinate department for ground handling and control quality of
service and issues generated by third party contracted companies this is out sourced to
specialised independent company which related 44 sectors of ground handling service. (Suk
2014). Also, ICN runs share benefit program with third party companies to assure the quality
of service.
The weakness is also there in ICN. It is government owned and operated as IICN
leasing fees and operation cost from airline is more expensive compare to other international
It is different ground handling system compare to Melbourne international airport
owned and operated by Qantas which is Airline Company and specialised independent
companies. The service quality is less satisfy compare to ICN. The report delay in MEL is
average 11% for Feb 2015 (The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development
2015) which is very high compare to ICN which is 4.13% (IIAC 2015).
Ground handling is very complexes and expensive sector of airport business. There
are advantages and disadvantages for different models of operating. The role of airport and
airline has been expanded and changed over decades and now airport and airline is not just
customer and provider relationship to assure quality and achieve the high performance
competing against other airports and airlines. Low cost carrier (LCC) is jumped into the
market recently and they suggest new model of ground handling which require less. LCC
tends spend less operation expenses which will reduce the profit of airport who is using EU
model which need to consider next model to assure profit and quality.
Alonso, BA 2014, ‘Ground handling management modelling and visual interface conceptual
design’, Aeronautical Engineering, Universidad de Sevilla Escuela Tecnica Superior de
Ingenieria, Toulouse.
Ashford, N,SH,MC,CP,ABJ 2013, Airport Operations, 3rd edn, McGraw-Hill, New York.
MANAGEMENT DECISIONS’, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Flight Transportation
Laboratory, FTL REPORT R85-2, Cambridge, Mass.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION 2014, State Aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into
Milan airport ground-handling services, viewed 2 April 2015, .
IIAC 2015, Incheon airport, viewed 2 April 2015, .
Jiang, 2015, Airport/Airline Operations, Melbourne, VIC, Australia, viewed 21 March 2015,
HANDLING SERVICES’, Department of Business Administration, University of
Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch.
Norman J. Ashford, SMPHW 2011, Airport Engineering: Planning, Design, and
Development of 21st Century Airports, 4th edn, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, New Jersey.
Poh, Eileen 2007, Relationship between airlines and airports, viewed 2 April 2015,
SH 2004, Ground handling operations: a technical perspective, viewed 2 April 2015,
SH and E, London.
Suk, JY 2014, ‘A Study on the Effect of IIAC’s Benefit Sharing System with Outsourcing
Companies’, Dept. of Aviation Business Administration, Graduate School of Korea Aerospace
University , Ilsan.
swissport 2015, Network, viewed 31 March 2015, .
Tan, YL 2010, ‘Differences in ground handling in the global market’, Department of
automotive and aeronautical engineering, Hamburg University of Applied Science.
The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development 2015, Airline On Time
Performance Statistics —Monthly, The Department of Infrastructure and Regional
Development , viewed 29 March 2015,