KOCHI:Buoyed by the increase in flight movement and passenger traffic, the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) has decided to appoint a third ground handling agency to upgrade security and the quality of ground-handling services to global standards.
The CIAL has floated global tenders, inviting proposals from both domestic and foreign agencies, for appointing the agency.
“At present, Air India and BWFS are the two agencies that provide comprehensive ground handling for airlines operating here. The airport has recorded over 50,000 flight movements and a record footfall of 64.5 lakh passengers in the 2014-15 fiscal year, making it the busiest terminal in the State and the fourth in the country, in terms of international traffic volume. Against this backdrop, we have decided to rope in a third agency to ensure better ground handling service,” said CIAL director A C K Nair.
“Besides, the new agency will enhance the degree of competition in the ground handling segment,” said the airport authorities. The move also assumes significance in the wake of the recent arrest of ground handling employees by the Customs Department for facilitating gold smuggling through the airport.
Meanwhile, the move to appoint one more ground handling agency has irked the two existing players. According to sources close to Air India, which is entitled to run ground handling on its own, the ground handling requirements of the airport can be managed well by the two existing agencies, despite the increase in passenger volume and flight movement in the recent years.
“A third player will definitely shrink the market-share of the two existing agencies, who have been paying a part of their turnover as royalty to the airport,” said experts.
As per the terms and conditions of the tender, Indian and foreign ground handling agencies can take part in the bid. Foreign agencies will be permitted to operate through joint venture with an Indian agency, in accordance with the Indian law. According to AAI officials, only those employees cleared by the security agencies will be allowed to do ground-handling work at the airport. Recently, the Customs Department arrested 35 persons, including 25 former and current airport employees, for facilitating gold smuggling through the airport.
Increasing efficiency of Ground Handling
■ Air India and BWFS are the two agencies that provide comprehensive ground handling to airlines operating at the Kochi airport, currently
■Ground-handling services include check-in, baggage handling, cargo handling, cleaning of aircraft interiors, loading and unloading of food and beverages
■ As per the terms and conditions of the global tender, Indian and foreign ground handling agencies can take part. Foreign agencies will be permitted to take part through joint venture with an Indian agency, in accordance with the Indian law
■ The entry of BWFS in 2009 ended the decade-long monopoly of Air India in ground services at the CIAL