Ground Control and Baggage Handling


Ground Control and Baggage Handling



All kinds of Aviation services are offered around the world of which the Ground Handling services have a huge workforce. The quality of the Services provided by Ground Handling must meet high standards. Special dedicated services are structured to meet needs of Airline that require a service portfolio extending beyond classic ground handling. Let us take a look at the services that will be provided by Ground Handling agents. We also try and analyze the tasks which relate to passengers. Notwithstanding the services that the GHAs are required to provide, these agencies are also bound by the regulatory agencies guidelines apart from the contracts that they enter into with the operators.

Airport Services

Two Sides of Airport Services

The airlines, ground handling agents and airports can surmount the challenges expected in the Aviation industry by providing high levels of reliability.

The two sides of airport services are

  • Passenger Services at the City side/ Terminal Building
  • Aircraft / Ramp handling at the air side of the airport

The Passengers services are from the terminals and are concerned with the Pax and their baggage, whereas the services are at the Ramp and pertain to the handling of the Aircraft arriving and departing.

Aircraft Ground Handling

Aircraft Ground handling encompasses the airport service requirement of any aircraft from the time of its arrival to the time of its departure on its next flight. An aircraft that is usually parked at the Apron of an airport is serviced while it is on the ground.

Let us look at the airport services included in Ground Handling Services (GHS)

Services included in Ground Handling Services (GHS)

GHS include:

  • Aircraft line maintenance and (GSE Maintenance)
  • Aircraft servicing and cleaning
  • Airport aviation security
  • Cargo and mail (on/off-airport) including warehousing and document handling
  • Catering services
  • De-Icing
  • Executive aviation handling and VIP Services
  • Flight operations and crew administration
  • Fueling
  • Irregularity operations support
  • Load control
  • Lost and found facilities and systems
  • Operation of airport lounges
  • Passenger handling with check-in, gate, departure, arrival, and
  • transfer services
  • Ramp services including baggage handling /sorting, GPU, push- back and others.
  • Representation and accommodation
  • Surface transport of passengers and crews
  • Station control, supervision and administration, including ticketing
  • Unit Load Device control and management
  • These services are not exhaustive and exclusive. Some items may be required or some may not be required. It is often dependent on the Contract.

General Ground Handling Services

Let us take a look at the following General Ground Handling Services:

Representation, Administration and Supervision of Administrative functions

Passenger Services

Ramp and Cargo Services

Baggage Handling

Marshalling and Parking

Cooling and Heating

Loading and Unloading

Planning and Management Services

Safety Measures

Moving of Aircraft

Exterior and Interior Cleaning

Representation, Administration and Supervision of Administrative Functions

The GHS involve administrative functions in which Ground handling agents undertake the following tasks.

  • Provide, or arrange for guarantee or bond to facilitate the Carrier’s activities
  • Liaise with local authorities
  • Indicate that the Handling Company is acting as handling agent for the Carrier
  • Inform all interested parties concerning movements of the Carrier’s aircraft
  • Establish and maintain local procedures
  • Take action on communications addressed to the Carrier.
  • Prepare, forward and file reports / statistics / documents and perform other administrative duties
  • Maintain the Carrier’s manuals, circulars, etc., connected with the performance of the services
  • Check
  • Sign
  • Forward

The overall coordination and related measures are required to be taken. Sometimes the carrier can have only on aircraft in week: hence no administrative support is needed. GHA has to take care of everything. Ground Handling Agents perform these duties on behalf of the Carrier on receipt of invoices, supply orders, charge notes and work orders.

Representation, Administration and Supervision and/or Coordination of Services contracted by the Carrier with Third Party / Parties.

The responsibilities of Ground Handling agents providing Ground handling Services are to:

  • Supervise
    • Co-ordinate services contracted by the carrier with third party / parities
  • Ensure that the third part is parties are informed about operational data and carrier’s requirements in a timely manner
  • Liaise with the carrier’s designated representative
  • Verify availability and preparedness of staff, equipment, loads, documentation, and services of the third party / parties to perform the services
  • Meet aircraft upon arrival and liaise with crew
  • Verify dispatch of operational messages
  • Note irregularities and inform the carrier
  • Airlines have to contract with a lot of other agencies for carrying on the jobs. The GHA may be required to co ordinate all the activities pertaining to the other agencies as well.

Passenger Services

Passenger Services include the following:

  • Airport ticketing sales desk
  • Arrival and transfer services
  • Baggage services
  • Check in services
  • Dedicated passenger services
  • Gate and departure services
  • Lost and found services
  • Operations of airport lounges
  • Special passenger and VIP services
  • Surface transport of passengers and crews

These services generally relate to the passenger and their baggage handling and are carried out from the Terminal building on departure and to the Terminal building on arrival.

GHS for passengers involve the following services:

  • Inform passengers and/or public about time of arrival and/or departure of Carrier’s aircraft and surface transport
  • Make arrangements for stopover, transfer and transit passengers and their baggage and inform them about services available at the airport.
  • Provide or arrange for special equipment, facilities and specially trained personnel, (when requested by the Carrier0, for assistance to:
    • Unaccompanied minors
    • Disabled passengers/ passengers with specific assistance, including their security clearance
    • VIPs
    • Transit without visa passengers (TWOVs)
    • Deportees
    • Special medial transport

GHS involve passenger services in which the ground handling agents undertake the following tasks:

  • Assist passengers when flights are interrupted, delayed or cancelled.
  • If applicable, arrange storage of baggage in the Customs bonded store (any fees to be paid by the passenger)
  • Notify the Carrier of complaints and claims made by the Carriers passengers
  • Handle and process claims such as lost, found and damaged property matters
  • Accept baggage irregularity reports
  • Enter data into baggage tracing system
  • Maintain baggage tracing system files for period specified in Annex B
  • Make payments for incidental expenses
  • Arrange for delivery of delayed baggage to passengers
  • Handle communications with passengers
  • Report to the Carrier any irregularities discovered in passenger and baggage handling


On Arrival of an aircraft, Ground Handling Agents:

  • Perform or arrange for opening and closing aircraft passenger doors
  • Direct passengers from aircraft through controls
  • Provide and arrange for
    • Transfer desk / connection services
    • Baggage rechecks

Ramp and Cargo Services

Ramp and Cargo Services by the Ground Handling Agents involve the following tasks:

  • Aircraft loading/ unloading
  • Baggage sorting
  • Bonded warehousing
  • Cabin cleaning
  • Cargo and mail handling
  • De-icing
  • Full export & import document handling including AWB check
  • GPU, push-back
  • Mail handling
  • ULD control and management
  • Water & toilet services

These services are required at the ramp, on arrival and during departure of the aircraft, the transportation of the baggage from Baggage make up area to aircraft on departure and aircraft to Baggage Break up Area on arrival. De-icing depends on specific requirements if the weather at that airport requires such services. Sanitation and cleaning of Aircraft is also required at ramp.

As part of the Cargo and mail handling services, the Ground Handling Agents undertake the following tasks;

Provide or arrange warehouse handling and storage facilities for:

  • General cargo
  • Special shipments
  • Specialized Cargo products
  • Mail
  • Store cargo
  • Take appropriate action to prevent theft of, or damage to cargo and/or mail
  • Provide or arrange handling services for
    • General cargo
    • Special shipments
    • Specialized cargo products
    • Mail
    • Diplomatic mail
    • Diplomatic Cargo –
    • Company mail
  • Obtain Receipt upon delivery of cargo
  • Monitor cargo delivery
  • Take action to prevent theft or unauthorized use of, or damage to the Carrier’s pallets, containers, net, straps, tie-down rings and other material in the custody of the Handling Company
  • Notify the carrier immediately of any damage to, or loss of such items,

Baggage Handling

Ground Handling Agents undertake the following tasks in Baggage handling services:

  • Handle baggage in the baggage sorting area
  • Prepare for delivery onto flights
    • Bulk Baggage
    • ULDs
  • Establish the number and/or weight of
    • Bulk baggage
    • Built up ULDs
  • Provide the load control unit with the information
  • Offload
    • Bulk baggage
    • ULDs
  • Prioritize baggage delivery to claim area.
  • Deliver to claim area
    • Baggage
    • Oversize baggage.

Transfer Baggage / Interline Baggage

The GHS also involve transferring baggage and interline baggage, in which the Ground Handling agents perform the following tasks:

  • Provide or arrange
    • To sort out transfer baggage.
    • For storage of transfer baggage prior to dispatch
    • For transport of transfer baggage to the sorting area of the receiving carrier
  • Handle crew baggage

The Transfer baggage and interline baggage are a regular feature and the crew baggage handling. It requires a specific concern; hence they need a different handling. At the same time they are equired to be cleared from security perspective as well.

Marshalling and Parking

  • Marshalling

             The GHS involve marshalling, in which the Ground handling agents provide or arrange for marshalling at arrival and/or departure.

  • Parking

           The GHS involve parking, in which the Ground handling agents:

  • Position and/or remove:
    • Wheel clocks
    • Landing gear locks
    • Engine blanking covers
    • Pilot covers
    • Surface control locks
    • Tail stands and/or aircraft tethering
  • Provide or arrange for ground power

Cooling and Heating

The GHS also involve cooling and heating tasks, in which the Ground handling agents provide or arrange for the cooling / heating unit.

Ramp to Flight Deck Communication

In ramp to flight deck communication, the ground handling agents perform the following tasks:

  • Provide headsets
  • Perform ramp to flight deck communication during:
    • Tow in and/or push-back
    • Engine starting

Loading and Unloading

The GHS also involve loading and unloading tasks, in which the Ground handling agents

  • Provide or arrange for
    • Flight deck steps
    • Suitable loading bridge
    • Passenger
    • Crew transport between aircraft and airport terminals
    • Equipment for loading and/or unloading
    • Equipment and personnel to perform baggage delivery and pick – up at aircraft
    • Equipment for transport and assembly of:
      • Baggage
      • Cargo
      • Mail
      • Documents between agreed points on the airport

Planning and Management Services

In Planning and Management Services, the GHS involve the following tasks:

  • AFP Fling (Aircraft Flight Plan)
  • Crew administration
  • Flight operations assistance
  • Fuel planning
  • Irregularity operations support
  • Liaising with various port authorities
  • Load control
  • Station control
  • Station representation and supervision
  • Weather briefing

Safety Measures

Ground handling services also involve arranging for safety measures. Ground handling agents may provide or arrange for fire-fighting and other protective equipment.

Moving of the Aircraft

Ground handling services also involve moving of the aircraft. Ground handling agents perform the following tasks:

  • Provide or arrange for tow-in and/or push-back tractor.
    • Either tow bar to be provided by the Carrier
    • Or Tow bar to be provided by the Handling Company
  • Store and maintain Tow bar(s) provided by the Carrier

Tow in and/ or push back aircraft

Tow aircraft between other agreed points

Provide authorized cockpit brake operator connection with towing

Provide wing- walker(s)

Exterior and Interior Cleaning

  • Exterior Cleaning

In Ground handling services, the exterior cleaning undertaken by the ground handling agents involve the following tasks:

  • Cleaning of:
    • Flight deck windows
    • Cabin windows
    • Aircraft integral steps
    • Wipe excess oil from engine nacelles and landing gear
    • Clean wings, engine nacelles and landing gear
  • Interior Cleaning

Flight deck is cleaned, under the supervision of a person authorized by the Carrier. In interior cleaning by Ground handling services, ground handling agents perform the following tasks:

  • Empty ash trays
  • Dispose of litter
  • Clear waste from seat back, overhead stowage’s and racks
  • Wipe crew tables
  • Clean and tidy seats, seat belts, seat back pockets and passenger service units
  • Mop floors and clean carpets
  • Clean flight deck inside windows
  • Clean passenger and crew compartments (other than flight deck)
  • Empty and clean refuse bins
  • Clean surfaces in pantries, galleys (sinks, working surfaces, ovens, and surrounds) and toilets (wash basins, bowls, seats, mirrors, and surrounds)
  • Remove as necessary, any contamination caused by airsickness, spilled food or drink, and offensive strains
  • Clean telephones, fax machines, LCD screens and other equipment

Interior Cleaning

The ground handling agents also undertake the following tasks in interior cleaning:

  • Clean
  • Cabin crew windows
  • Cargo compartments
  • ULDs
  • Fold and stow blankets
  • Make berths
  • Change
  • Head rest covers
  • Pillow covers (covers are supplied by the carrier)
  • Collect and/or distribute items provided by the carrier in
  • Cabin
  • Toilets
  • Disinfect and/or deodorize aircraft with
  • Materials provided by carrier
  • Remove or Destroy food and material left over from incoming flights
  • Materials provided by Handling company
  • Provide or Arrange for laundering of
  • Cabin blankets
  • Linen

Interior Cleaning

Ground handling services also involve the following interior-cleaning:

  • Toilet service

Ground handling agents undertake the following tasks in toilet services:

  • Provide or arrange for toilet service
  • Empty clean flush toilets, and replenish fluids
  • Provide the triturate / disposal service


  • Water service

Ground handling agents undertake the following tasks in water services:

  • Provide or Arrange for water service
  • Drain water tanks
  • Replenish water tanks with drinking water


  • Airport Services
  • Aircraft Ground Handling
  • Services Included in Ground Handling Services (GHS)