Brady’s Outlook on Swissport’s Future

June 9, 2022
As the industry bounces back, the ground handling company is focused on expanding operations, recruiting personnel and utilizing new equipment.
Warwick Brady
Warwick Brady

The commercial aviation industry is experiencing a boon in traffic volumes as pandemic-related restrictions are lifted and passengers return to the skies.

As business picks up for airlines, the demand for ground handling services is increasing as well. In an interview with conducted at the IATA Ground Handling Conference in Paris, Swissport president and CEO Warwick Brady discussed how his company is focused on growth, recruiting people back to the industry and utilizing new equipment to make operations more sustainable.

Active at 285 airports at the start of this year, Swissport has continued to open new locations throughout 2022. Brady said the company has been able grow both organically and through mergers and acquisitions.

“Our challenge is prioritizing the opportunities,” he said. “There’s a huge amount of opportunity with acquisitions, outsourcing. The question is how do we prioritize that and match it to our internal ambitions, but also making sure that we can deliver. We don’t want to take on too much.”

Swissport’s presence in Latin America has grown quickly as the company has expanded from 40 to 64 airports in the region during the last eight months.

Beyond geographical expansion, the ground handling company has also enhanced its cargo operations with recent growth at Liege, Vienna, Amsterdam, Chicago and Brussels, among others.

“We want to be the de facto go-to handler in the cargo business,” Brady said.

In addition to other factors, the way e-commerce and shopping habits have been influenced by the pandemic has prompted Swissport to bet on its cargo business, according to Brady.

“If you look at the sea logistics, all the containers, that’s still quite disrupted. We think to unravel that will take some years,” he said. “We think the opportunity for growth over the next three to five years is going to be significant.

To meet the current industry demand brought on by more airline passengers, recruiting workers back to the ramp is critical for Swissport and other ground service providers.

Brady noted where travel has become less restricted, such as domestically in the U.S. as well as in Europe and the UK, the massive return of passengers is creating unprecedented growth. On top of that, airlines are trying to adjust their schedules to meet the demand, which causes challenges for ground handlers.

“We need to adapt our business model to the changing environment,” Brady said.

According to Brady, finding the right people to work in a challenging setting requires robust recruitment and engagement. Investing in training is also key to provide the best workforce possible to the industry.

“To deliver great ops, you need the right amount of people with the right amount of training,” Brady said.

Utilizing the correct equipment will also allow enhance ground operations, and Brady said Swissport has an eye on the latest GSE technology.

“We’d obviously like to leapfrog into autonomous, self-maneuvering, self-protected equipment, but of course, that’s going to be journey,” Brady said.

“In the meantime, we need to make sure as we replenish all of our 50,000 pieces of equipment, they’re environmentally friendly. They might not all be electric, of course. There are just airports that just don’t have electrification on their list.”

Deploying green GSE is part of Swissport’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda, Brady explained. But given the scale, initiatives like this require cooperation with all stakeholders.

“We need to partner with the airports, the airlines … because it’s a massive capital investment to replace existing equipment,” he said.

“Of course, we’re very open and willing to look at pooling at airports and reduce the carbon footprint as well,” Brady added.        

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Josh Smith | Editor