Press release

DfT Ground Handling Report

30 March 2023

In June 2022, the Government announced a 22-point plan to tackle aviation disruption. This included a Review of Ground Handling – the sector which services aircraft, passengers and bags – to identify what went wrong at UK airports last summer, which saw unprecedented levels of delays and cancellations. The Department for Transport commissioned PA Consulting to lead this work, the final report for which was released today.

Mark Elliott, aviation specialist at PA Consulting, says:

We are already seeing signs of greater collaboration between industry stakeholders to improve passenger journeys through UK airports this summer.

Findings from the report

The PA team identified several challenges, both structural and more immediate, some of which remain acute ahead of the summer 2023 season.

While recruitment and retention remain key short-term challenges for some companies, this has generally improved since last year. There remains, however, an urgent need for greater collaboration between all stakeholders – government, airlines, their ground handling agents, airport management and others in the supply chain – to help improve operational resilience and drive efficiency.

This could involve improving day-to-day tactical decision making by sharing operational data more effectively, or collaborating more closely on long-term capital investment plans to accelerate productivity growth and the transition to net zero.

The industry has already started to make progress, forming a new ground handling trade association to facilitate collaboration across suppliers and with government. We also saw many examples of good practice at airlines, airports and ground handlers that could be replicated across the UK. However, more needs to be done so that passengers can avoid more summers of chaos at UK airports.

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