OR Tambo cuts rate of ‘mishandled’ baggage

10 February 2014

Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) has made significant reductions in baggage pilfering at O.R. Tambo International, where a multimillion-rand investment in new technology has yielded results, the company said in a statement last week.

“In 2009, 18.65 bags per 1 000 departing passengers were mishandled at OR Tambo International Airport, and this has dropped significantly in 2013 to 9.79 per 1 000 departing passengers,” international general manager Tebogo Mekgoe said.

OR Tambo International Airport’s baggage management statistics are “faring competitively” when compared to the global averages provided by Sita Worldtracer, a company that studies global trends and reports on baggage performance), Mekgoe said. Sita reported global mishandling rates at 11.39 bags mishandled per 1 000 passengers in 2009, improving to 8.83 in 2012.

Cape Town International and King Shaka International Airports have consistently performed at levels below four bags per 1 000 passengers. The higher number at OR Tambo International Airport is the result of about one fifth of the airport’s traffic being connecting traffic. This is one of the major contributors to mishandled bags around the world.

Although the handling of baggage is the airlines’ responsibility – they contract in service providers – Acsa says it plays a key role by providing them with infrastructure support for the process.

Some of the Acsa’s successes in reducing pilferage can be attributed to a number measures that have been implemented. These include:

  • The redesigning of the baggage sorting area’s entrance and egress points to accommodate fully automated screening and reverse screening, thereby limiting access to the area.
  • The introduction of a sterile facility where staff members leave all personal belongings before being screened and gaining access to the restricted area through a central security point.
  • A biometrics system that gives restricted access once a permit holder has scanned both their permit and fingerprint.
  • The implementation of a colour-coded permit system, restricting access to the baggage makeup area only to authorised employees and not all permit holders.
  • Strict compliance to uniform requirements by staff working in the baggage basement.

Acsa said collaboration by all parties would see the number of mishandled bags significantly reduced.

SAinfo reporter and SAA