The fifth annual edition of SITA’s Baggage Report
shows that the amount of mishandled baggage – checked baggage that has
been delayed, damaged or pilfered – fell by over a fifth last year from
42.4 million bags in 2007 to 32.8 million bags in 2008. The number of
bags actually lost or stolen also tumbled from 1.28 million to 736,000.
Francesco Violante, SITA CEO, said, “The good
news is that for the first time since we started publishing this
report there has been a significant drop in both mishandling and
lost baggage rates. With almost ten million fewer bags mishandled
last year, the industry saved some $800 million.
“Partly this is due to industry initiatives which have resulted in
fewer bags being checked-in, and hence fewer bags mishandled, but
it also shows that baggage processing initiatives – such as IATA’s
Baggage Improvement Programme (BIP) and SITA’s integrated baggage
management solutions – are delivering positive results and helping
both the industry and passengers alike.”
aviation IT specialist, operates WorldTracer, the
industry-standard, fully-automated system for tracing lost and
mishandled passenger baggage used by over 440 airlines and
ground-handling companies worldwide. Last year the WorldTracer
database showed a mishandling rate of 14.28 bags per thousand
passengers worldwide, compared to 18.86 per thousand in 2007.
The great majority of these 32.8 million mishandled
bags were reunited with their owners in less than 48 hours and
only a small fraction, 0.32 bags per thousand passengers, or
736,000 bags, failed to show up at all compared with 0.57 per
thousand passengers or 1.28 million bags in 2007. This improvement
reduced industry losses by $800 million to $2.9 billion last year.
The numbers of passengers travelling in 2008 was
stable (up by just 1.4% on 2007) at 2.3 billion passengers. The
drop in mishandled baggage numbers can be due to several reasons,
among them the increasing number of airlines charging for baggage
resulting in fewer bags being checked-in. Some airlines have also
relaxed their policies concerning carry-on baggage reducing the
need to place bags in the hold.
airports are working hard on the baggage issue; 49% of airlines
and 55% of airports surveyed by SITA in 2008 gave high or very
high priority to IT investment to “improve baggage processing and
Airlines would like to see both
checked and carry-on baggage volumes reduced because lower weight
means less fuel burned and fewer bags mean speedier aircraft
turnaround times and less compensation paid for mishandled and
lost bags. There is a clear trend across the industry towards
encouraging passengers to travel with fewer and lighter bags, or
ensuring that passengers pay the costs associated with checking in
baggage. Ancillary revenues related to baggage charges are growing
at many European and North American airlines.
airports around the world operating at full capacity, the apparent
reduction in the number of bags being checked-in, and lower
volumes of passenger traffic reported towards the end of 2008,
have relieved the pressure on airport infrastructure including
baggage handling systems.
The single biggest
problem for baggage handlers is when bags are being transferred
from one aircraft to another – though the percentage of bags
mishandled in transit as a percentage of all mishandled bags, has
been falling steadily, from 61% in 2005, to 49% in 2008. Other
causes of mishandled baggage, as registered by WorldTracer, are:
Failed to load, 16%;
Arrival station mishandling,
Airport/customs/weather/space-weight restriction, 6%;
Loading/offloading error, 5%;
Tagging error, 3%.
IATA recently presented its Baggage Improvement Programme to over 180 airlines around the world and aims to cut
baggage mishandling in half by 2012 – generating annual savings to
the industry of between $1 billion and $1.9 billion depending on
the range of issues addressed. Some airlines are already reporting
dramatic reductions in mishandling rates as a result of this
programme which targeted nine airlines and nine airports last
Door-to-door baggage handling is also
helping. Off-airport baggage check-in is already offered by some
15% of airlines, and another 18% plan to offer the service within
two years. According to a SITA passenger survey, almost 50% of
respondents said they would use such a service and over 40% of
those said they would be willing to pay for it.
SITA facilitates communications between airlines and local baggage
handling and reconciliation systems to ensure bags reach their
correct destination, and its proprietary BagMessage system
delivered more than 812 million messages between airline departure
control systems and automated baggage systems in 2008.
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