Ahead of summer travels, IATA tasks ground handlers on workforce, others
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged ground-handling companies to prioritise effectively staff recruitment and retention, consistent implementation of global standards, and automation of operations.
IATA, the clearinghouse for over 290 world airlines, said the three priorities would build resilience and ensure long-term sustainability.
At the 35th IATA Ground Handling Conference (IGHC), in Abu Dhabi, recently, IATA’s Director of Ground Operations, Monika Mejstrikova, predicted a busy summer travel season for the aviation industry, and the ground-handling sector would need to be ready.
Mejstrikova said: “Short-term, we must act fast to prepare for increased traffic. Ensuring efficient onboarding of new employees and working with governments to reduce bottlenecks in security clearances is critical.
“Longer-term, more effective staff recruitment and retention, implementing global standards and accelerating digitalisation and automation will be critical to build resilience and ensure sustainability,” she said.
A recent IATA survey found that 37 per cent of ground handling professionals anticipated staffing shortages until the end of 2023 and beyond, and 60 per cent felt they didn’t have enough qualified staff to ensure smooth operations. Additionally, 27 per cent of respondents feared that their current employees would leave soon.
“Creating a stable ground handling talent base is essential. And it can be achieved by making ramp work more attractive. We need to embrace automation to relieve staff from difficult and hazardous tasks, foster a culture of continuous learning and career growth and create a safe and inclusive environment for people where talents are nurtured,” Mejstrikova said.
IATA outlined a series of initiatives to help alleviate labor shortages: Implementation of competency-based training, with more online assessments to improve speed and efficiency
Mutual recognition of security training and employee background records among authorities, to expedite the recruitment process and reduce redundancy.
Automation of processes to relieve people from performing physically challenging tasks
Promoting career development and rewarding years of training and skills.
IATA has just launched a Ground Ops Training Passport, which supports staff retention and professional growth. It mutually recognizes skills and training across ground handlers, airlines, and airports to drive cross-utilization of skilled personnel.
“The real beneficiary of the training passport is the employee. They will have access to their training records, allowing them to use their knowledge and skills for ongoing professional growth. An industry-wide approach to talent development will pay big benefits in terms of efficiency for all concerned. We need to empower our employees for success,” Mejstrikova said.