easyJet has increased flexibility and de-risked ground operations at London Gatwick by separating out the Ground Handling from the Ground Support Equipment in a new contract with Rushlift GSE.
At London Gatwick the airline has around 210 departures a day at peak. So, achieving a fast and effective turnaround of aircraft on the apron is important for both asset utilisation and customer satisfaction. Preparations on the ground, in terms of handling baggage, positioning steps, transporting support staff, provisioning and manoeuvring the aircraft, should all be orchestrated with speed and precision – operations that depend on the reliability of the ground handling staff and the equipment that supports them.
Traditionally, in the aviation sector, ground service operations are sub-contracted to specialist organisations that provide both the labour and the ground support equipment. However, in 2017 easyJet took the unprecedented step of deciding to lease ground support equipment directly and bring in contractors that would supply labour resources only.
Graeme MacLeod, Head of Ground Handling Transformation at easyJet, said: “We made the decision that we wanted to have more control over the type and the volume of ground handling equipment available to us. Strategically, it made sense. Ground handling companies tend to provide both people and equipment, so if it comes to those companies wishing to save money the two principle ways to do that is to cut back on equipment or labour – and we didn’t want to be in that situation. We wanted more control.
“If we own the equipment it makes it easier for any future transition – it just goes from one provider to another. In effect, the ground handler becomes more of an agency labour provider rather than a specialist equipment provider and separating the two gives us greater flexibility and reduced risk.”