The airport handling business has never been easy and airlines are always on the look-out for better terms and conditions in order to keep costs down. Much of the burden of this is handed down to the handlers who must always try to stay on the alert to ensure that their structures are also keyed towards profitability and better service.
Swissport goes from ‘nine to three’
The Zurich-based airport cargo and passenger handler which is seen as being one of the world’s largest, is no exception to the above.
The company which employs around 68,000 staff, handles 4.7 million tonnes of cargo annually and serves over 850 customers at 315 airports around the world, has developed into being a household name in the aviation handling community. Now it seems, they feel it is time to consolidate their management structure in order to maintain a better overview of their various business segments.
Presently there are nine regional management structures in place and the decision has been taken to consolidate these into three regions as of January 1. 2019. The three new Regional Heads will replace the present Chief Operating Officer position on Group level. The responsibilities of the Chief Commercial Officer will for the large part move over to the regional level and a newly created Performance & Innovation position is meant to ensure that Commercial Governance is controlled at Group level.
Three new regions
All three new Regional Heads will report directly to Swissport’s President & CEO, Eric Born.
The new EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa) will be headed by Luzius Wirth who is currently Executive Vice President UK & Ireland. Mr Wirth is also a member of the Swissport Group Executive Management.
Asia & Pacific will in future be handled by Glenn Rutherford who presently is in charge of Swissport Australia and New Zealand.
The Americas Region will be temporarily run by Joe Phelan, Swissport’s Chief Operating Officer. Joe Phelan, who will retire in mid-2019 will take over until either an internal or external candidate takes up the job.
The newly created position of Executive Vice President “Performance & Innovation” which is also on a Group Executive Level will be handed over to Simon Messner who is currently Senior Vice
President Europe. In a recent statement the company says that his role will be to drive Operational Standards, manage Quality, Health, Safety and Environmental standards and oversee Commercial
Governance, Future product Development, Innovation and Fleet Management.
Quite a large challenge for one man who will surely need to set up his own unit to manage this.
New succession plan
This all seems to be part of a new Swissport structural revamping for future operations.
Because of the decision to move from nine to three regional management teams the Regional Heads will replace the COO on Group level and the CCO responsibilities will move into the regional level in order to create a closer relationship with clients and market developments.
Joe Phelan, the Group’s Chief Operating Officer and Nils Pries Knudsen, Group Chief Commercial Officer will go into retirement during the first six months of 2019.
Will other large handlers follow Swissport’s structure set-ups?
Two new awards
Swissport is the first air cargo handler in Canada who has received the IATA CEIV certification. The certified station is Montreal. The handler turned over 27,000 tonnes of cargo in Montreal in 2017 and this figure is expected to increase further in 2018. Swissport offer temperature-controlled storage facilities there for pharma products. They also have a special cooling unit which can be turned down to -20 degrees Celsius.
Together with Finnair they were recently awarded the “Best Handler Innovation Award” by Ground Handling International magazine. The honour was for a new machine-learning tool which is said to dynamically help predict aircraft delays at Finnair’s hub in Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.
John Mc Donagh