Baggage Tracking Deadline Nears

The International Air Transport Association is ramping up its assistance to meet Resolution 753.

With just under a year to go until the introduction of its Resolution 753 the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airlines for America (A4A) are working hard to make sure the ruling’s demands are met. This July the two organizations launched a global baggage tracking campaign to help its members meet the June 1, 2018 implementation deadline for Resolution 753.

The effect of Resolution 753, published in 2014, will be to increase the efficiency of baggage operations and reduce the amount of mishandled baggage.

The campaign refers to a series of initiatives, such as a baggage tracking implementation guide, regional workshops, an awareness campaign for aviation stakeholders, and a readiness certificate for interested airlines. “The purpose of the IATA and A4A global baggage tracking campaign is to raise awareness and build momentum now that we are less than a year away from the effective date of Resolution 753. Additionally, the purpose is to educate the wider industry on baggage tracking,” explained Andrew Price, Head of Global Baggage Operations, IATA.

Since the beginning of this year, IATA has reached out to over 45% of its member airlines regarding the forthcoming requirement. In response, 10% of its members have shared their implementation plans with IATA and requested guidance.

As for airlines’ progress in collecting data for the four key tracking points specified in Resolution 753, that can only be estimated: “For tracking point 1 – customer to airline, it is 100%. For point 2 – loading the aircraft, it is around 60% for electronic records. For tracking point 3 – plane-to-plane transfers, whether ‘tail-to-tail’ [done on the apron] or through a baggage handling system, it is around 30%. For tracking point 4 – arrivals, that is, the return of baggage to passengers, it is probably around 40%, based mainly on the arrival tracking capabilities of the US carriers and a handful of EU airports,” added Mr. Price.

IATA is working with the industry to get firm numbers.
The 68-page baggage tracking implementation guide, which happens to predate the launch of the campaign, covers topics such as:
• What is meant by baggage tracking
• What data needs to be recorded where, how and the potential methods used
• How data can be shared between interline journey partners involved in the baggage journey
• How tracking and data exchange can be used to realize the benefits of baggage tracking
• How baggage tracking partners can work together to implement tracking
• Best practices and how tracking strategies could be evaluated

“I had an airport come to me, saying that Resolution 753 can’t apply to them because they never see baggage – it was all automatic.”
Andrew Price, Head of Global Baggage Operations, IATA

IATA last updated the guidance document this June and it can be downloaded from its website. It has already held five regional workshops (or awareness meetings) this year, in Johannesburg, Singapore, São Paulo, Amsterdam and North Asia (Beijing and Taipei), and more are due. “They introduce Resolution 753, explain the airline obligations, what it means in practical terms, and how to start an implementation plan,” said Mr Price. They are also an opportunity to ask airlines how they are getting along, what their plans are, and whether they need assistance from IATA.

Airports and ground handlers, as vital stakeholders, are also invited to the regional workshops. That they have questions and concerns is evidenced by two examples… as Mr Price explained: “I had an airport come to me, saying that Resolution 753 can’t apply to them because they never see baggage – it was all automatic. I discussed with them the importance of collecting the information regardless of the equipment used.
“A baggage handler [worried about time constraints] told me: ‘If we try and scan the bags it will take more time, and we won’t get paid for it’. The solution, of course, is communication between the ground handler and airline on how to meet the requirements of Resolution 753.”

No workshops have been held yet in North America. “Key stakeholders there are getting on with their implementation, so they need less guidance from us,” Mr. Price noted.
IATA will hold more workshops next year, and will likely announce the 2018 schedule at its November 2017 Baggage Working Group meeting.

The awareness campaign targets airports, ground handlers and industry providers who can support airlines in meeting their obligations. The general public is also interested in being able to follow their bag’s progress, but that provision remains an independent airline decision.

The purpose of the IATA readiness certificate is to support airline members when they develop their implementation plans. Mr. Price said: “Some airlines want guidance from IATA, and share where they are in their implementation, and their plans. We review the information they provide and look for things like consistency and tracking capability. We then report back on how the gaps can be filled, when applicable.”
He does stress that airlines are not mandated to share their implementation plans or require certification from IATA on baggage tracking. “We are not ranking any airlines. We are just providing assistance and compliance, based on the information airlines provide.”

The exact number of carriers that will be compliant by the deadline is unknown. Mr. Price explained: “Some airlines already exceed the requirements, some are almost complete, others will be ready by the deadline, some haven’t started yet, others are planning, others don’t know how to start. They run the whole spectrum. We are working with other companies to make reporting on compliance a simple process, and this will assist airlines in deciding where to priorities their tracking investments.”

As an incentive to be compliant by next June, the IATA Baggage Working Group has proposed that those airlines unable to demonstrate tracking will pay 100% of the costs (as opposed to just its share of a flight distance) for a bag mishandled on a journey involving them. This is subject to approval at the IATA and A4A Joint Passenger Services Conference, to be held this October in Barcelona.
Mr. Price invites airlines to take advantage of a day of sessions on baggage, and the new guidelines at the World Passenger Symposium on October 25 also in Barcelona and concluded: “Whilst Resolution 753 affects the entire industry and the entire world, it is simple, basic information that is needed at this stage.”

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