18 JULY 2022


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Article from BTNews 18 JULY 2022

Handling at Heathrow

BTN has learnt that whilst the public assumes the current delays and cancellations at Heathrow appear to be the airlines/airports’ fault, this is not always the case.

If you buy a ticket for an airline, other than British Airways or Virgin Atlantic, in most cases the staff dealing with your check-in will not work for the carrier whose logo is above the desk.  Emirates and Qatar are the obvious exceptions with multiple departures and a need for full time staff.  But even they, once your bags have been whisked away, are in the hands of firstly Heathrow Airport Ltd in terms of the mechanical aid to get the cases though the terminal, and then to a handling agent for transfer to the aircraft.  Menzies, a huge multi-national logistics company, typically handles Finnair who do not even have a manager at the airport.  

The agent company looks after the arrivals too.

If an airline is delayed, or even early coming to a gate, and the planned routine is changed, there can be delays whilst the baggage is discharged and finally reaches the luggage hall.  It is nothing to do with the airlines or Heathrow.  The problem is that the airline and Heathrow are tarred with the same brush.

Swissport, who also run the Aspire lounges, are another handling agent who handle numerous airlines including Austrian and Lufthansa.   

The moral of the story is that Heathrow and its so-called resident airlines (and only BA and Virgin are truly resident) continue to take the blame with Heathrow saying that its proposed passenger tax increase is going to be invested in new baggage handling facilities to replace the old Terminal 1 operation which is still partly in use. Emirates could be added to the ‘residents’ list as its handling is dealt with by the fast expanding DNATA, also owed by Dubai.




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