News Industry ‘tackling’ transfer baggage handling problems but ‘needs RFID’

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Industry ‘tackling’ transfer baggage handling problems but ‘needs RFID’

Mislaid suitcases at Heathrow's Terminal 5 opening have dominated recent news.

Mislaid suitcases at Heathrow‘s Terminal 5 opening have dominated recent news, but the west London hub’s hardships go against the general trend in transfer baggage handling, according to a new survey.

Leading IT provider SITA has this week launched a report offering solutions for improving baggage handling worldwide, but asserted that transfer baggage mishandling problems were in fact on the wane.

The group’s figures for 2007 showed that transfer baggage mishandling was still the single largest cause of baggage delay, but at 49 per cent had fallen considerably on the 2005 figure of 61 per cent.

Investigating the possibilities for reducing baggage handling problems further, the group claimed that RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology could offer the industry savings of $700 million (£350 million) per year if implemented instead of barcodes.

Emirates recently launched a six month trial with electronic RFID chips for baggage on its flights at London Heathrow, Dubai International and Hong Kong International airports, with SITA backing the technology to prevail and spread to feeder hubs as well as major airports in order to maximise benefits.

The group cited the positive experience of Hong Kong International Airport – which has employed RFID baggage handling procedures since the end of 2004 – as an example to follow.

SITA’s figures show that overall some 42.4 million bags were either mishandled or delayed in 2007 which is 2% of the 2.25 billion pieces of luggage dealt with by the airlines.