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Rewriting benchmarks of ground handling

S. Anil Radhakrishnan
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State of the art: A COBUS that has arrived at the new international terminal building of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport for ground handling services.
State of the art: A COBUS that has arrived at the new international terminal building of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport for ground handling services.

Passengers can now look forward to experiencing ground handling of international standards at the new international terminal building of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

New players equipped with imported, sophisticated gear are all set to rewrite the benchmarks of ground handling, a vital area of aviation, as per the Open Sky policy of the Union government. As many as seven major international airports in the country will enjoy the new facilities. New Delhi-based Bhadra International India Ltd. is one of the players entrusted with ground handling across the country.

Air India SATS Airports Services Private Ltd. (AISATS), a joint venture between Air India and Singapore Airport Terminal Services (SATS), will soon take over ground handling at the international airports in Thiruvananthapuram and Karipur.

Ground handling mainly involves passenger services, cargo services and aircraft services. Passenger service includes check-in, accepting and delivery of baggage and escort of travellers. On the ramp side, loading and unloading of baggage, aligning equipment with the aircraft for baggage and cargo movement and attaching step-ladders with smaller aircraft that cannot be docked with aerobridges will be taken care of. Cleaning of the aircraft, including the cabin, and coaches for passengers will be the responsibility of the ground handler.

Instead of the farm tractor used to haul baggage and cargo between aircraft and warehouse, battery operated tow tugs have been imported for the first time in the country by Bhadra. Nine tow tugs, which are also environmental friendly, have reached the Thiruvananthapuram airport.

Passenger movement between the airport terminal and the aircraft that cannot be docked with an aerobridge will get smoother with the introduction of COBUS, a low-floor carrier that can accommodate 126 passengers. Even wheel-chairs can be moved in without being lifted into this huge coach and this will come in handy for the physically challenged and senior citizens. Two COBUS will operate in the new terminal.

Three giant baggage and cargo loading equipment from Germany are among the latest arrivals at the airport. Two may be used for Jumbo jets and smaller aircraft while the third can go up to the upper deck of freighters like B-747 that arrive from the Gulf countries.

Three aircraft push-back tractors, for pushing the aircraft backwards at the time of departure, have already arrived at the airport.

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