"Adding quality through modern IT systems has helped Swissport gain new customers in the UK."
John Batten, Executive vice-president-cargo, UK
GROUND handler Swissport has achieved a number of notable successes in the UK in 2009, particularly at London Heathrow, where it has attracted a clutch of new airline clients. According to John Batten, executive vice-president-cargo, it is the quality of service provided that has helped win these customers, as much as the price offered.
"We now have an airwaybill scanning system called SHIELD that no-one else has. All of the AWBs are online and available at anytime for the airlines. They can log-in and grab what they need from anywhere in the world."
IT provision is "becoming increasingly important" in ground handling, according to Batten and the investment the company has made is beginning to pay dividends. In January the company is rolling out the Cargospot cargo management system in the UK as part of the worldwide adoption strategy. Adding value to customers will be key in maintaining and winning new contracts, says Batten as prices have reached very low levels.
The UK market and handling companies have suffered like in other European countries in 2009. "Business has generally been pretty poor all year. However, for us, by winning important new contracts we have managed fairly good results." The latest airline to sign with Swissport at Heathrow is Qantas, which commenced operations in mid-September. The win was the third by Swissport at the airport within the last two months, following South African Airways and Finnair. The Qantas agreement includes the cargo handling of the carrier's four daily passenger flights, as well as all trucking and off-line handling within the UK.
"Swissport and Qantas Freight already work together at a number of key international hubs. We are delighted to be able to take on this business for Qantas Freight in London and we'll be doing everything we can to live up to the trust that has been placed in us and meet - and even exceed - the high standards that Qantas Freight expects in terms of quality and reliability," said Batten. He added that, excluding the home based carriers British Airways and Virgin, Swissport was now the largest handler at Heathrow with some 25 airlines.
The growth in new UK customers, trucking and off-line handling has prompted the handler to increase its facilities at Manchester. "We are moving in with Plane Handling to allow us to take on more business. By sharing facilities it gives us a bigger premises to grow into and helps keep costs down for both companies."
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