Basics of a career in ground handling

There is a plethora of prospects for those aspiring to be at the heart of aviation’s operational excellence.

May 04, 2024 04:28 pm | Updated 05:53 pm IST

Ground handling encompasses a spectrum of services vital for the swift transition of an aircraft from landing to take-off. 

Ground handling encompasses a spectrum of services vital for the swift transition of an aircraft from landing to take-off.  | Photo Credit: Illustration: Freepik

India’s aviation sector is soaring to new heights and passenger capacity is expected to increase from 192 million to 420 million in the next four years at the six major Indian airports. The fleet strength of Indian airlines is also expected to grow from 700 to 2,000 aircrafts within the same timeframe.

What it involves

This has led to a pressing need for proficient individuals to orchestrate the seamless and safe operations of ground handling services at airports across the country. Ground handling encompasses a spectrum of services vital for the swift transition of an aircraft from landing to take-off. These encompass aircraft marshalling, baggage handling, fuelling, catering, aircraft cleaning, passenger services and aircraft maintenance, all of which collectively ensures the safe, punctual, and efficient operations of airlines and airports. This, in turn, directly influences the overall passenger experience and bolsters an airline’s reputation. Consequently, the demand for skilled ground handling professionals is burgeoning.


Key roles within this domain include:

Ramp Agent: Responsible for handling passenger baggage and cargo, handling Ground Support Equipment as well as other related activities when the aircraft is on ground.

Baggage Handler: Ensures the proper loading, unloading and transportation of passengers’ luggage to designated areas.

Customer Service Agent: Facilitates smooth check-ins, assists passengers with inquiries, aids persons with reduced mobility and handles other related activities to ensure a seamless boarding process.

Load Control Agent: Plans, coordinates and produces all loading, weight and balance documents as per company and client airline specifications.

Despite automation, the industry demands highly trained individuals to oversee seamless operations. Specialised training is necessary for tasks such as operating ground service equipment and loading cargo to maintain safety and efficiency. This requires the development of industry-specific skills, including interaction with AI and ML technologies, and the honing of soft skills for passenger interactions. To bridge the skills gap, a new talent pathway is essential, with specialised training academies offering accelerated programmes to prepare individuals for diverse roles within the aviation industry.


Currently, many training academies offer a Certificate in Ground Handling and Airport Operations, spanning 30 days or more. Prospective students are required to meet specific eligibility criteria such as Class 12 pass certificate for Ramp Agent and a degree for Customer Service Executive (CSE). Upon successful completion, students receive placement assistance.

Ground handling is pivotal for the aviation industry and offers a diverse spectrum of career opportunities for those seeking a dynamic and fast-paced work environment. As a bonus, a career in ground handling also opens up avenues within the hospitality and services sector owing to a close proximity between the two. With India’s aviation sector on a growth trajectory, the demand for adept ground handling professionals is poised to escalate.

The writer is CEO, Air India SATS.

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