Good morning,
It is both a privilege and an honor to stand before you today. Our dedication and hard work forms the backbone of aviation, contributing to the success of 37 million flights every year.

From the moment a passenger arrives at one airport to when they take off from another, and from when a plane touches down to when it takes off again, our teams are indispensable. We are there, ensuring that every process meets the highest standards of safety for a seamless passenger and baggage journey.

As we gather today, we do so in anticipation of a busy peak Northern summer season for the aviation industry. Global ticket sales data in Q1 predict a 12% increase in travel compared to 2023.

With volumes now back to pre-pandemic levels the challenge is to ensure that the industry’s future growth is supported through safe, efficient, and sustainable ground operations.


That means we must continue to focus on:

  • Improving safety through reducing operational risk  
  • Harmonizing the implementation of global standards
  • Putting sustainability – people, planet, and prosperity - at the heart of what we do

Monika Mejstrikova Picture: Monika Mejstrikova, IATA's Director Ground Operations


Let's begin with safety, our top priority. I will highlight three areas where we are working to reduce operational risk:

The first is ground damage: The industry is facing a massive challenge. As the number of flights grow ground damage costs could skyrocket to almost $10 billion by 2035 if we don't act fast. However, there is a solution—Enhanced GSE.

By transitioning to Enhanced GSE, which uses anti-collision and inching technology to improve vehicle control and increase docking accuracy, we can make the ramp a safer place for people aircraft and reduce ground damage costs by 42%.

Additionally, since insurance costs are influenced by historical claims and aviation safety incidents. If we aircraft damage through the use of enhanced GSE will also reduce insurance expenses.

Despite these well-documented gains, the transition has been slow. To accelerate progress, we have launched the IATA Enhanced GSE Recognition Program. This program will recognize ground handlers leading the integration of enhanced ground support equipment into their vehicle fleets.

Ground Handlers achieving a ratio of Enhanced GSE to non-Enhanced GSE that exceeds a set threshold will be recognized with a two-year recognition stamp. Participation in the program is currently voluntary and free of charge. This is one way IATA is driving industry safety improvements without imposing addition financial burdens on Ground Handling Service Providers (GHSPs). The first ground handlers to obtain this recognition at various stations are HACTL and Menzies Aviation.

The second area is injury prevention. Leveraging insights from the IATA Global Incident Data eXchange (IDX), we have identified the most common injuries in ground handling: slips, trips, falls and impacts from objects.  To combat these, we have launched a safety campaign, underscoring the importance of following industry standards.

The third area within the safety portfolio involves the mitigation of loading errors. The primary sources of loading errors are:

  • Nets not properly deployed or completely absent (25%)
  • Cargo or baggage not secured adequately (24%)
  • Discrepancies between load sheets and Load Instruction Reports (LIR) (21%)
  • Loading checklist omitted (19%)

We have been working with industry stakeholders to reduce loading errors by digitalizing the communication between load control and loading team ensuring data is entered into the system. including digital load reconciliation.

Business requirements for digital load control reconciliation were completed and published in AHM and a digital schema will be developed by the end of the year.

Members who have adopted these digital solutions have achieved a reduction in loading errors by up to 80%, decreased loading delays by 30%, and significantly reduced the use of paper documents.

Global Standardization of Processes

The next priority for Ground Handling is the standardization of ground handling processes. Standardization boosts efficiency and safety. Global standards are the key. IGOM defines these requirements.

To support the efficient implementation of IGOM, we launched the IGOM Portal in 2022. This includes a comparison function between IGOM requirements, and the manuals used by airlines and GHSPs.  

This portal has been renamed the Operational Portal or OPS Portal. Over 160 airlines and over 80 GHSPs have joined the portal. There is 111 published gap analysis and more to come.

This year we will be incorporating gap analyses for other industry standards, covering training, organization requirements and SMS.

IGOM has proven to be effective, and supporting its global adoption is the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO). In 2023 ISAGO expanded, we conducted 303 audits-  an 18% increase over last year. Another 300+ audits are expected this year.

The ISAGO network has also expanded. Currently, it covers 210 GHSPs, operating across 365 accredited stations in 221 airports worldwide. This is a testament to the industry's trust and value of the program,

ISAGO's benefits go beyond compliance. Today, 153 airlines use our ISAGO audit reports to improve their risk management for outsourced ground operations.

The practical benefits of adopting ISAGO's framework are clear and quantifiable:

  • 251 stations have not undergone audits by airlines because the operators were depending on the thorough evaluations provided by ISAGO.
  • At 150 stations, airlines have confidently extended the periodicity of their oversight activities.

We have also seen a reduction in the auditor-days at 90 stations, optimizing resources while maintaining safety.

I encourage you to join the growing community of airlines, GHSPs, regulators, and airports that endorse ISAGO and support global standardization, don’t be left behind.


Another area that would benefit from greater standardization is baggage. We all know the frustration of losing luggage, and while most is returned within 48 hours, even a small delay is a huge inconvenience. The cost to the industry is staggering; in 2022, 26 million bags were misplaced, costing $2.2 billion.

Recognizing the critical nature of this problem, the industry has taken robust steps toward not only reducing baggage mishandling but also advancing toward real-time tracking for our customers.

The first significant stride in this direction is the implementation of IATA Resolution 753, which mandates the tracking of bags at four key points during the baggage travel journey. As of today, 44% of airlines have implemented this resolution, and 56% are either in the process or planning to adopt it.

However, implementation rates differ widely by region— Africa and Middle East are at 27%, Europe and Asia-Pacific are at 40%, the Americas are at 60%, and China and North Asia are leading at 88%.

The second critical initiative is to accelerate the adoption of modern baggage messaging standards. The current baggage messaging infrastructure depends on legacy technologies using costly Type B messaging. This high cost negatively affects the implementation of Resolution 753 and contributes to issues with message quality, increasing baggage mishandling.

IATA is leading the industry's transition from Type B to modern baggage messaging based on XML standards. The first pilot to test the standard is planned for this year.

The progress made already is undeniable. Despite a spike in mishandling post-COVID, the long-term trend from 2007 to 2022 shows a significant decrease of almost 60% in mishandling rates per thousand passengers.

Together, these efforts will transform how we manage and track baggage, aiming to restore and enhance the trust that passengers place in our ability to deliver their belongings safely and promptly.

Forging a sustainable path forward

Sustainability is our industry’s license to operate and grow. It’s more than just minimizing our environmental impact; it is also about our people and economic sustainability. We have recently launched a sustainability roadmap for ground operations, centered around three pillars—People, Planet, and Prosperity. Today, I'll highlight a few of the key initiatives.

People: We aim to create a stable talent base by promoting career development that rewards years of training and skill acquisition. Last year, we launched the IATA Ground Operations Training Passport, initiative that mutually recognizes skills and training across ground handlers, airlines, and airports, facilitating the cross-utilization of skilled personnel. I am delighted to report that the Lufthansa Group is the first to implement the Training Passport. Starting next year, ISAGO audits will include checking the implementation of global training requirements outlined in chapter 11 of the AHMM.

Planet: Our industry’s goal is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) are key.  Despite strong demand from airlines and shippers for SAF, we face a persistent challenge: a shortage of supply. To reach the amount of SAF we need to decarbonize the industry, we need enhanced government policy incentives, which are crucial and urgently needed for growth in production.

How we power our aircraft is an important part of our commitment to sustainability, but there is so much more to be done. Transitioning from traditional powered Ground Support Equipment (GSE) to electrically powered equipment and biofuels also be a part of aviation’s decarbonization path. IATA has initiated a project to support transition to cleaner GSE power.

A recent study in Europe revealed that electrically powered GSE produces 48% less CO2 emissions than traditional fossil fueled GSE under the same operating conditions. If extrapolated globally and based on 2019 traffic levels, the ground handling industry could reduce its CO2 emissions by 1.8 million tonnes per year. This is the equivalent of removing close to 430 thousand petrol-powered cars from the road for a year.

Prosperity: Economic sustainability is just as important as People and Planet, especially in times of financial recovery. For ground operations, economic sustainability can be enhanced through reducing turnaround costs, minimizing operational delays, decreasing ground damage, and driving digitalization and automation. All areas we are working on.


It is always a challenge to summarize a year of progress in a brief report. There is no shortage of topics to track. Ground handling may not always get the spotlight, but it plays a vital role.

Let us remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins and ends on the ground. It is here that first and lasting impressions are made, and the passenger experience is shaped.

Today, as we discuss the key topics our industry is facing, let us celebrate ground handlings resilience and the work we do, day in and day out, to make great passenger experiences possible. Let's continue to raise the standards and work together to build a stronger and more resilient industry for the years to come.

On that thought, I wish you a successful conference.