15th Asian GHI Conference delivers in Kuala Lumpur

Major stakeholders in the ground handling industry in Asia Pacific and India came together this week for the 15th GHI Asian Conference in Kuala Lumpur, marking the first time the event was held in the region for five years.

It was a resounding success with 350 registered delegates ready to network and discuss fundamental issues facing the industry at the three-day (5-7 March) conference at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Menzies Macau Airport Services, TLD, Weihai Guangtai, TCR and Asara Equipment, Vestergaard, Damarel, Airport College International and Global Load Control (GLC) were among the 37 exhibitors who were keen to meet new clients and renew business contracts with existing clients.

GLC had a special signing ceremony on the last day to renew its contract with Singapore Airlines. The long-standing partnership, which began in 2008, extends GLC's role in supporting SIA's efficient and safe operations for several years to come.

"We value our partnership with this premium worldwide carrier," said Yolanda Haynes GLC’s Business Relationship Manager. "Starting with just a few flights handling the weight and balance for their US and Africa departures, we have grown to become their trusted partner, handling 95% of their outstations globally. We are committed to supporting them with continued innovation and process enhancements."

While the strong rebound in passenger travel in the Asia-Pacific region was the prevailing theme throughout the conference, alongside the capacity challenges facing service providers and GSE manufacturers alike to manage this demand, finding qualified staff today following the Covid-exodus of experienced employees was the other pressing issue which is having a detrimental impact on some ground operations, affecting OTP targets as well as increasing ramp incident rates.

In Australia, Jetstar Airways reported a 50% increase year-on-year in the number of incidents due to the lack of experienced and competent staff, the delegates heard at the conference. The airline is now looking at introducing mitigating measures to combat this concerning trend.

Vivien Lau, Chief Executive of Jardine Aviation Services Group, a company with almost 80 years of handling experience at Hong Kong Airport, shared the handler’s staffing dilemma and why they've had to seek support from the Chinese government to make up for their huge losses of experienced staff during the pandemic.

The government has now set up a unique Import Labour Scheme, focusing on supporting the civil aviation and construction industries, with the first phase of recruitment underway for workers from Mainland China, and in which Lau describes as finally "a light at the end of the tunnel".

India took centre stage with local handlers and manufacturers excited to share the phenomenal pace of growth on the sub-continent, which is expected to be the third largest aviation market by 2046 and invited greater collaboration from industry leaders to meet this demand in growth.

The role of AI in plugging the skills shortages, cargo and Southeast Asia's e-commerce market set to soar to $2 trillion were also part of the panel discussions at the conference among many others.

Max Gosney, GHI Conference Chairman, was delighted with the turnout at this year’s conference, saying: “It's been a really strong event this year by getting many of those Chinese and Southeast Asian companies back to the heartland event that is the GHI Asia Conference, with representation from companies like Air China, Shanghai Airport International Services and representatives from China Airlines. The total of 350 registered delegates is a really comprehensive representation of ground handlers, airlines and suppliers in the Asia region that just wasn't possible a year ago.”

He added by building on the feel-good factor around this Asian event, GHI hopes to use it “as a springboard” for next year’s event in Vietnam, Da Nang. “It’s an exciting developing market for us to harness and grow the event and attract more airlines, more ground handlers, and more suppliers. One year on, we hope Asia will be even stronger in terms of volumes and growth that we're seeing in the sector. So I’m pleased GHI Asia has been a very satisfying event and what I believe as a significant pathway to delivering growth again next year.”

Exhibitor David O’Connell, Managing Director of dBD Communications, said: “Yet again GHI delivers, it’s been great to have more concentrated discussions with new and existing clients and it’s clear from our perspective that the industry is moving to create a safer operating environment with the utilisation of wireless technology.”

Roll on next year!

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