As Chairman of IAHA, I want to say it is with great pleasure that Ground Support Magazine has invited us to contribute to this very informative publication.
IAHA, in its current form, came about directly as a result of the consequences of 9/11. Almost overnight insurance coverage, particularly war-risk, disappeared along with the threat of significantly increased premiums. Suddenly, the independent handling agents were in danger of having no insurance or at the very least, inadequate insurance coverage. With this in mind, the management of a number of European-based companies met to discuss the options and what action needed to be taken. Following these discussions, it became evident that a trade association was needed. The European independent handlers had such an organization but this was in need of reconstitution and so instead, it was decided to have a new, worldwide organization with its administrative office in Belgium, with Luc Meurrens as secretary general and treasurer and myself as chairman.
Our first full meeting was in Rome in 2002 in conjunction with the Ground Handling International Conference and thereafter, we have had annual meetings on the first day of the event to be cost effective for our members in Prague, Budapest and this year in Athens. IAHA also meets at the IATA International Ground Handling Conference in May every year which, of course, enables our members to combine our meetings with these annual events.
The objectives of IAHA are to represent the ground handling industry worldwide, to provide a forum for consultation on non-competitive issues between companies, to develop common standards, to communicate concerns with all parties, to establish common positions on legal and regulatory issues and to work with common effort for the progress of civil aviation worldwide.
It is felt that airlines and airports are already well represented therefore, IAHA is specifically tasked with representing independent handling companies, i.e. those that are not owned or controlled by airports or airlines and that provide passenger, baggage, cargo and/or ramp handling.
To function, IAHA has a Board of up to 11 members representing the membership in respect of company size, geographical location, etc.
IAHA then has five functional working groups, Regulatory Affairs, Legal & Insurance, Information Technology & Communications, Ground Handling and Cargo. A sixth group — North America, deals with all these aspects but on a regional basis in conjunction with the Airline Service Council of NATA and we now have two regional groups — the Caribbean Aviation Handlers Association and a new African Regional Group. These groups review issues such as the revision of the EU Directive, war-risk insurance, the growing use of CUSS Terminals and who should operate them, benchmarking of accident/incident statistics and computer-based self-training.
These working groups review the principal issues of the day, sometimes producing position papers or representing the independent industry to a wider audience. In this way, IAHA hopes to offer value for money to its members and represent their interests in the highly competitive and ever-changing world of civil aviation.