London Heathrow leads the way?

On the 23rd August 2018, the Chief Operating Officer of Heathrow Airport Ltd., Mr. Chris Garton, wrote to all airlines and ground service providers [GSPs] operating at LHR.

Noting the the support of the UK Government – for a 3rd runway – and citing, inter alia, the objective of improved ramp safety, resource and infrastructure efficiencies and better on time performance, the COO outlined the airport’s plans to mandate the adoption of the IATA Ground Operations Manual [IGOM] for all airlines and GSPs.

In addition, if not already in place, by 30th June 2019, all LHR self-handling airlines and GSPs will, as part of the airport’s Conditions of Use (airlines) and Ground Operations Licence [GSPs] be required to obtain IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations [ISAGO] accreditation.

ASA has consistently supported the standardisation of ramp handling – based on aircraft type rather than airline – and we believe the adoption of IGOM at one of the world’s busiest airports is a significant step forward. The benefits in reduced operational complexity and associated risk, combined with training and process standardisation are clear.

We are also supportive of a robust, industry best practice safety audit programme. ISAGO is certainly one option although we see merit in ‘bedding down’ the IGOM adoption. 

Finally, there is reference in the letter to the “ramp of the future”, “automation” and “GSE Pooling”. ASA and its membership are very happy to work with all stakeholders to drive innovation, indeed many GSP colleagues contribute significantly (at their cost!) to help develop industry manuals, policies and initiatives.

Finally, whilst GSE pooling is something which can of course be explored, we believe it needs careful study to ensure the perceived benefits can actually be realised. Every airport is unique and there are commercial issues which need to be considered. In any event, a collaborative approach to this aspect of the Heathrow plans is essential.


 Jon Conway
Director General – The Airport Services Association

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