ISAGO Begins to Take Hold

To date, there are 61 ground service providers at 85 locations across the globe listed on the ISAGO registry.

Borrowing from the ethos of ISAGO, IGOM represents a further attempt at harmonizing the industry worldwide, being designed to provide a single, definitive manual, formed from the synthesis of existing best practice. Though a challenging task — not least because it will also have to accommodate specific regulatory demands and company policies — the indications from IATA are that it is progressing on schedule, and the first edition will be released during the first quarter of 2012.

Implications for outsourcing

It is clearly an ambitious project, but its implications could be especially important in the light of the growing global trend towards outsourcing. The prospect of a standardized, consistent service from third-party handlers around the globe that the arrival of the new manual should bring is something which could influence the decision to outsource ground handling.

Going down the outsourced route inherently means that a large amount of procedural control is surrendered to the “bought-in” servicers, and for airlines, that raises the specter of potential damage if their process is improperly performed or imperfectly supervised. With a core set of agreed ground operations procedures adopted by GSPs, airlines should be able to make the move to outsourcing with much greater confidence, though it is hard to imagine that, as with ISAGO audits, they will not take a while to be entirely comfortable with accepting the new standards manual in place of their own.

Be that as it may, the idea does seem to be pushing on the proverbial open door. As ASE’s Ben Lahcen puts it, “our first priority as an airline representative is safety and security for both the airline customer and the airport staff providing services on the ground.” Domradov concurs. “There is a real desire amongst ground handlers to improve what they do, to be better and more able,” he says. “These programs make it possible to raise those competencies — even if it will need a little time.”

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