Ramping up services for new handling contracts

Recent weeks have been more hectic than usual at London Heathrow, but just as efficient. After acquiring contracts with ANA, US Airways, LATAM and Qatar Airways early in the year, our Ramp & Customer Services group faced a tight schedule to get everything organised before the new operations began on May 15.

The biggest challenge was taking on four new carriers concurrently and combining our teams, as Mike Cathrall, Customer Services Business Manager, explains.  Despite the challenges, dnata achieved an impressive on-time performance of 99 per cent, delivering a consistent service to existing airlines while focusing on new clients.

As well as staffing pressures, the team re-coordinated their ramp handling operations as Steve Szalay, General Manager Ground Services, describes:  “We had known these contracts were coming and we had a major restructure last year to position ourselves into one combined ramp operation, ready to absorb the airlines we won. We assembled four different planning teams to ensure the carriers got the bespoke service they needed.”

Mike adds: “The handling has progressed very well. There have been some learning curves but, in general, all the preparation, hard work and dedication of the London Heathrow team made this a success.”

Much of London Heathrow’s general reshuffling has been triggered by the opening of Terminal 2, which is being staggered between June and September. With such a major change approaching however, all operations across London Heathrow are affected.

Steve points out: “Passenger Services have seen the bulk of their business move to Terminal 4, Operations have moved to Terminal 3 and Ramp Services are consolidating a new home in Terminal 3. We are also looking forward to moving our Virgin Little Red service into Terminal 2 by September 2014.

So what’s next for our passenger services team?  “The next challenge is to break down barriers between departments and make our staff more interchangeable and multi-skilled which will make for a more efficient operation and bring variety and an increased skill level to our staff.”