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Fri 7 February 2014

Johannesburg, 6 February 2014 – Over the past seven years, Airports Company South Africa has made significant improvements to support, coordinate and oversee baggage handling operations across its network of airports. This is demonstrated by the company’s multi-million rand investment in the latest technology to improve baggage handling and management at O.R. Tambo International, its flagship airport.

“In 2009, 18.65 bags were mishandled per 1 000 departing passengers at O.R. Tambo International Airport and this has dropped significantly in 2013 to 9.79 per 1 000 departing passengers”, said O.R. Tambo International General Manager, Tebogo Mekgoe.

“O.R. Tambo International Airport’s baggage management statistics are faring competitively when compared to the global averages provided by SITA Worldtracer (a company that studies global trends and reports on baggage performance), which reported global mishandling rates at 11.39 bags mishandled per 1 000 passengers in 2009 and improving to 8.83 in 2012,” added Mekgoe.
Cape Town International and King Shaka International Airports have consistently performed at levels below four bags per 1 000 passengers. The higher number at O.R. Tambo International Airport is the result of about one fifth of the airport’s traffic being connecting traffic. This is one of the major contributors to mishandled bags around the world.

With Airports Company South Africa’s stance being that one bag mishandled is one bag too many, the broader focus has been on improving the operational effectiveness relating to baggage handling. Despite the fact that baggage handling and management is the sole responsibility of the airlines – which contract baggage handling service providers – Airports Company South Africa plays a key role in partnering with stakeholders and providing globally benchmarked support infrastructure for the process.

Some of the company’s successes, which speak to the airport community’s commitment to on-going efforts to reduce pilferage, can be attributed to a number of factors, which include:

  • The redesigning of the baggage sortation area’s entrance and egress points to accommodate fully automated   screening and reverse screening – thus limiting access to the area.
  • The introduction of a sterile facility where staff members leave all personal belongings prior to being screened and gaining access to the restricted area through a central security point.
  • A biometrics system that only gives restricted access once a permit holder has scanned both their permit and fingerprint.
  • The implementation of a colour-coded permit system, restricting access to the baggage makeup area only to authorised employees and not all permit holders.
  • Strict compliance to uniform by staff working in the baggage basement.


While some say it’s impossible to get to zero, Airports Company South Africa and its stakeholders continually strive to reduce the number of mishandled bags. The company measures and reviews its baggage processes against international standards with the objective of remaining competent and competitive. Only through such collaborative efforts with all responsible stakeholders can the number of mishandled bags be significantly reduced.

For more information contact:
Unathi Batyashe-Fillis
Acting Spokesperson, Airports Company South Africa
Direct: +27 (0)11 921 6087
Cell: +27 (0)79 882 7307

Categories: Passengers