Ground handling services at airports

Published: Wednesday, 20 July 2022 18:26
That was the subject of the presentation of the virtual session of AERIAL Tuesdays of July 19, 2022, in Yaounde on the topic "Ground Handling Services at Airports".
The presenter talked about the different services delivered during ground handling in conformity with the existing regulatory framework. She took the opportunity to inform the audience about the process to be followed by an airline to benefit from the services of a ground handling assistant on a given airport platform.
Thus, according to the Manual on Ground Handling Services (ICAO Doc 10121), ground handling is defined as all airport services necessary for the arrival and departure of an aircraft, which are not part of air traffic services.
The activities related to these services ensure the smooth commercial operation of aircraft, but they also contribute directly to flight safety. They can be classified into seven (07) categories, including passenger handling (check-in, boarding, disembarkation), baggage and cargo handling (loading, unloading, transportation of baggage and cargo), ramp handling (preparation for arrival, positioning, take-over, and push-back of the aircraft), fuel (refueling) and oil handling, aircraft line maintenance, aircraft services (supply of drinking water, sanitation, cleaning, de-icing and anti-icing), catering services.
Even though the ground handling sector is an integral part of the aviation system which contributes directly to flight and airport safety, ground handling is not treated in any strict regulatory documents, neither at the international level (not included in any ICAO annex) nor at national level (not included in laws, decrees, orders, circulars and the like). Nevertheless, there are applicable standards developed by the industry which provide a framework for ground handling services, notably: ICAO Doc 10121: Ground Handling Services Manual, 2019, 1st edition; the IATA AIRPORT HANDLING MANUAL (IAHM), and its derivative texts: IGOM, ICHM, ULDR, DGR, LAR, PCR, TCR.
In Cameroon, ground handling services are provided at the airports conceded by ADC S.A.- a mission assigned to Cameroon Airports Company ars per the management and operation concession agreement signed on  December 7, 2015, at the same time as the airport operation procedure.
At the Bafoussam airport, which is managed entirely by the CCAA, CAMAIR Co self-ensures the provision of its ground handling services.
At other airports not under concession, the companies requiring ground handling services call on private individuals (notably COTCO whose ground handling assistant is the STANDARDS company). 
Also presented at this session of AERIAL Tuesdays were the conditions to benefit from ground handling services at an airport. They include signing an assistance contract between the ground handler and the airline, the definition and signing of a Service Level Agreement (SLA), and implementation of a company GOM (Ground Operations Manual), which gives service provision guidelines.
In the absence of company instructions (no GOM), the ground handler will apply the practices and procedures described in his flight handling manual. Such is the case at ADC, which has instituted a Ground Handling Manual (GHM) since 2017 and has signed assistance contracts with many companies for which it now provides ground handling services (Cargolux Airlines International S.A., ASKYAirlines).
To improve the safety of Ground Handlers' operations and to avoid multiple audits to airlines, IATA has set up a certification process, the ISAGI certification (IATA Safety Audit, for Ground Operations). 
Arguably, this virtual session of AERIAL Tuesdays was potentially educative and instructive to the participants on the topic of ground handling services, with the particular case of Cameroon.