All posts by Clara de la Torre

On 15th November, we added a new customer to our portfolio, Etihad, the second national airline of the United Arab Emirates, based in Abu Dhabi, to which we will provide a full-handling service.
Etihad will initially operate four daily frequencies between Madrid – Abu Dhabi with a Boeing-789, with the likelihood of increasing to five from January.
Both the Commercial Department of Iberia Airport Services (IBAS), headed by Carmen Martinez as Handling Account Manager, and the Management of Madrid-Barajas Airport have been working for months to ensure that everything is ready and that the operation is a success.
The great novelty for the Barajas team will be to work with SABRE as DCS system in our HUB. Etihad personnel have been responsible for training a group of employees in the use of this system, teaching them the specific procedures and requirements necessary to comply with the established standard.
All those responsible for executing the “mechanism” that we set in motion with the training process and that culminates with the first day of operation, are specialists in coordinating this type of process, given that at Madrid Barajas we serve 38 client companies and all types of fleets,” says Rubén Menéndez, Companies Support Manager.
We show you below how this first operation went:

Check-in

We opened check-in about 3 hours before the flight was scheduled to depart at 14:00. At the check-in counters in T4, our Passenger Service colleagues attended for the first time to passengers flying to Abu Dhabi with the SABRE system. Everything went smoothly, as María Gómez told us, “although with the nerves of using a new system, we worked smoothly with SABRE, and as with the rest of the companies, we pay special attention to ensure that all documentation is in order, despite the fact that these flights have a great diversity of nationalities and connections to other destinations”.

While at the docks

In the baggage hippodrome located in the North Satellite area of T4, the ramp team began to classify the bags according to their destinations and transits, segregating the baggage according to their connection times and assigning them in a pre-established order inside the AKES or baggage containers.

And on the tarmac we first welcomed the arrival of Etihad.
We witnessed the arrival of Etihad flight EY075 at its assigned parking position, where the ramp team had previously proceeded diligently to inspect the FOD (foreign object debris). Once the coordinator assigned to this flight, Elena Munteanu, confirmed that the engines were stopped and the beacon was turned off. This is when the ramp team began to deploy efficiently around the apron, in a rehearsed choreography, to carry out their tasks on a windy day in Madrid: placing chocks in front of and behind the wheels because no cones were placed due to the wind, GPU (Ground power unit) and opening the holds.
All this dance took place under the watchful eye of team supervisor Miguel Barba and coordinator Elena, who confessed that she was delighted to welcome a client like Etihad to Madrid.

Boarding

Everything was ready to start boarding on time, but we had to delay it for a few hours due to a technical problem on the plane. In spite of the incident, we always had our employees at the disposal of the company’s needs and giving support to the passengers.
End of service to the aircraft.
After 19:00 hours, the pushback finally moved into position to “hug” the nose gear and start the pushback manoeuvre.
Witnessing and supporting the start of this operation were Carmen Martinez, IBAS commercial manager, Nieves Auñón, Etihad’s head of stopover and various managers from different areas of the Barajas team, such as Mirian Hidalgo, Passenger Customer Handling Manager and Miguel Saiz, Customer Handling Ramp Manager, among others.
Nieves Auñón, Etihad’s head of stopover, thanked us for the work carried out during the previous weeks: “I am convinced that this is the beginning of a professional relationship that will last for a long time. Thank you Iberia Airport Services for your dedication and professionalism, as I have been able to see in this first operation, putting to the test the great human and technical team at the disposal of our company”.
Seeing this first flight depart, everyone “relaxes”. It is the beginning of a new stage with a new client that we are delighted to serve, proud of the levels of quality and efficiency demonstrated, after a few hard weeks of preparation.

 

The shortlist for GHI’s Pride of Ground Handling Awards 2021 has been revealed and Iberia Airport Services is among finalists in the Handler Airline Innovation Award category: Iberia – Kepler Project in BCN: IBAS Turnaround 3.0 for Vueling

Thanks to the advances in technology and digital transformation that IBAS has implemented in its ground operations, as part of its GoUp! Programme, we can now offer to all our airlines a new and innovative tool called KEPLER.

KEPLER is the new IBAS operational management tool that will unify the 22 apps historical used in the company on a single one, to connect all business units in only 4 modules: resource planning, real time operation, billing services and data analysis.

To customize Kepler in BCN for IBAS main client – Vueling – we worked together in several work streams to define the functionalities that VY operation requires in its hub as well as the new procedures to utilize it by IBAS operational teams.

The success of this project lies in employee’s involvement from beginning to end and IBAS organization commitment, in collaboration with our suppliers and customers as Vueling.

Last year we were also finalists in these awards and we are looking forward to finding out the winners this year on 07 December.

Last week we welcomed back to Barcelona one of our main clients, LATAM, who returned after a few months of interruption due to the pandemic. With this reincorporation, we now serve 22 in Barcelona.

Eduardo García, KAM Handling of Iberia Airport Services in Barcelona, has been working during the last month, together with the operational team of BCN and the representatives of LATAM (at national level and the manager of airports in Europe) on all the operational procedures. One of the main challenges is always the preparation and training of the resources that LATAM needs for its operation, both human and technical, in the three operational areas: passenger, coordination and ramp. As an example, for the use of its own check-in system in Barcelona, SABRE, we have supported the entire installation with the airline’s UCA, SITA and IT teams.

The great novelty of this operation is the trust that LATAM places in IBAS as representatives of its company in Barcelona. All the agents involved in the operation have very well-defined functions and have been specifically trained to resolve any incident in situ, with the support of the supervisor or shift service manager and Hub control team. At Latam’s request, we added a new profile to our functions, called “COT” (ground operations coordinator), who is in charge of preparing the flight, being in permanent contact with the LATAM representative at headquarters, closing the flight, completing and verifying all the information required by the company in its systems.

As Eduardo remarks “after the months of pandemic we have lived through, the truth is that it is an illusion for the whole team to see that the companies are flying again and, above all, that LATAM has chosen us to push all these changes”.

A work supported from central services by Ana del Cura, commercial manager responsible for the company LATAM, who says “we have been working with LATAM for years and it is a pleasure to see them again in BCN. Our experience allows us to prepare any type of operation (start-up of routes, temporary reopenings…) that our clients require. We have put all our efforts and dedication to prepare this return of Latam with three weekly frequencies between Barcelona and Sao Paulo, and we will work in the same line to make it a success during this season”.

We welcome a customer back “home”; we are delighted to meet again and thank you for trusting in the excellence of our services, always adapted to the current situation and your requirements.

Santiago de Compostela airport opened in 1932 and a new terminal was built in 2011.  According to a recent article in El Correo Gallego, SCQ Rosalía de Castro airport, more popularly known as Lavacolla airport, is Galicia’s most important airport in terms of number of connections and passengers and occupies slot 16 in the ranking of Spanish airports. Last August

Iberia Airport Services (IBAS) currently provides handling services for five airlines (Vueling, Iberia Express, Air Nostrum, Privilege Style and Aer Lingus) with international destinations like London Gatwick, Paris Orly, Amsterdam, Brussels and Zurich.

In the 1980/90s Iberia operated summer flights to MEX and even JFK with a B-747 aircraft, offering connections to the Galician emigrants resident in those two cities. Pope John Paul II and Prince Naruhito are just two of the celebrities who have visited this city that has always been serviced by IBAS.

At this airport we have a versatile workforce (between 56 and 76 employees, depending on the season) able to meet any requirement the airlines call on us to handle. Santiago airport is open 24/7 and although usually there are no night flights, an Iberia Airport Services team is there making preparations for the following day’s flights as well as being on hand in case any flights are diverted from other airports.

Antonio Ruiz Lorenzo is the manager of Santiago de Compostela and Vigo airports. In his 37 years at Iberia, his knowledge and experience of passengers, ticket sales and technical operations have taken him all over Spain, from Málaga where he started out, to station manager in Melilla and Menorca, then on to Seville and finally to Santiago, where he has been in post since 2015. Antonio tells us that “Galicia’s climate has made us “experts” in managing diversions of flights with speed and efficiency. Santiago is the alternative airport to A Coruña and Vigo, and thanks to the communication between the Iberia Airport Services teams at all three stations we try to anticipate incidents and offer solutions to passengers in the shortest possible time.

María Teresa Méndez Paz, who works at Santiago de Compostela airport, says she does a bit of everything: “One day I’m coordinating, the next drawing up a flight’s load sheet, another day I’m doing check-in and boarding… at small airports we have to be versatile. This is an airport that receives a lot of pilgrims because of the Way of Saint James, so you often find passengers travelling back to their places of origin with their “pilgrim’s staff” or bike, which are very common items of luggage for us.

Juan Miguel Ferreira, head of airports at Iberia Express, tells us in this video about the operational excellence of the IBAS team at SCQ and its empathy when it comes to minimising the impact of incidents for their customers, who after all are our customers as well. Meanwhile, Antonio points out the advantages of working with a team like the one at Iberia Express.

   

 

We are delighted that SkyUp is starting to fly from Madrid to Kiev and once again, they have placed their trust in Iberia Airport Services to serve their two weekly flights, on Mondays and Fridays.

Carmen Martínez, Key Account of Iberia Airport Services (IBAS), who is responsible for the Ukrainian company, tells us that “it is very exciting to accompany them on this new journey and we are proud that they have opted for our services on their new route from Madrid. We have been serving them since 2018 at the airports of Mallorca, Alicante, Barcelona, Tenerife North and South.  Welcome SkyUp to the capital city!”

On 18th October, the inaugural flight took off from Terminal 1, Adolfo Suarez-Madrid Barajas Airport, where our Handling staff welcomed passengers amidst an arch of balloons in the company’s corporate colours.

Iberia Airport Services (IAS), Iberia’s airport handling unit which serves more than 100 airlines in 29 Spanish airports, racked up 23 million passengers served this summer season.

From June through September, IAS attended more than 93,000 aircraft and handled some 16.5 million pieces of luggage, which amounted to 70% of the activity registered in the summer of in 2019.

It also tended to more than 21,000 unaccompanied minors, about 60% of the total in the summer season of 2019. 

Domestic Travel

The summer saw a sharp recovery of domestic travel, and IAS actually surpassed its summer-2019 totals in the airports of Ibiza, Asturias, Gran Canaria, Santiago de Compostela, Santa Cruz de la Palma, and Tenerife Norte. 

Some 86% of airlines beginning operations in Spain this summer chose IAS as handing service provider, including World2Fly, Vietnam Airlines, EGO Airways, and Lattitud. 

Iberia’s Airport manager José Luis de Luna said, “This summer was the turning point in the recovery of our airport handling business. Now we face the challenge of winning the biggest number of licences, in which we are bringing to bear innovative solutions based on the latest technology, which translates into better customer service, more efficient use of our resources, and a more sustainable footing for our business.” 

Going for New Licences 

Spain’s airport handing licences, worth about 1,000 million euros, are awarded every seven years by the national airport authority AENA, and these licences are up for renewal this year.

Iberia Airport Services is preparing to present its bids, and is strengthening its position with innovative solutions that can ensure better services tailored to individual customer needs.

During the pandemic it acquire eight new electric powered pushback tractors,that are operated by remote control are pollution-free. They have already been used to move more than 3,000 aircraft at the airport of Madrid and Barcelona.

At Iberia Airport Services, safety is imprinted on our DNA. For our employees it is an attitude, and we have instilled a safety culture  in which communication is the key that drives all our actions: daily operating briefings, awareness campaigns, a monthly newsletter focused specifically on safety, and the novel forumula of the safety talks  that we are currently holding for suppliers and customers at the airports we service.

This October we have given our safety talks at Barcelona for our main customer there, Vueling, in which we analysed a variety of real cases and evaluated possible solutions to avoid incidents in the future.

In Barcelona we also gave our Safety Talks to Serpista, the ground equipment supplier we use to handle aircraft at this airport and with whom we shared best practices and recommendations for the use of this equipment to enhance safety and efficiency.

Since the eruption of the volcano on the island of La Palma, Iberia Airport Services is committed to help and provide the maximum support to all people of La Palma, passengers, airlines and colleagues from the Canary Islands. Therefore, while we wait for the operation re-start, we have maintained our staff at 100% (35 people) to coordinate solutions to the airlines we handle – CONDOR, GRUPO TUI, EASYJET, CANARY FLY, EDELWEIS, IBERIA and VUELING – giving our full attention at counters, rerouting, issuing hotel vouchers and surface transport arrangement to the port of La Palma. “More than 1,100 customers who, despite the airport closure, have passed through the airport in the last five days and to whom we have tried to offer our best care, according to the options each airline provides to each passenger,” says Teresa Gutiérrez, our manager at La Palma airport.

Since the airport closure to air traffic last Friday, we activated all measures to preserve and protect La Palma’s ground equipment fleet from the ash, in order to guarantee operational safety parameters.

In addition, committed to provide the greatest support to the people of La Palma, last Wednesday 22 September, we coordinated with the NGO Mano a Mano the delivery of humanitarian aid from Madrid airport within a few hours.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our colleagues on La Palma for their efforts, dedication and solidarity in preparing the operation recovery.

ALC airport opened in 1967, growing in number of passengers and in client companies, until becoming one of the most important in Spain. It is one of the busiest in the summer season when we provide our Handling services to more than 20 client companies, including Vueling, Air Algerie, Air Nostrum, Neos, Icelandair, British Airways, Flyplay, Bees

As confirmed by Kolbrún Ída, Station Manager for Flyply, a company that recently started working at ALC “”from day one, the IBAS team has perfectly complied with the required service standards. Our crews and passengers are delighted to fly to ALC.

We employ 250 people (depending on the season) and during the months of July and August our operation reached 68% vs. 2019. We undertake all kinds of special operations but, above all, due to the proximity of Benidorm’s theme parks, we transport really unique animals like dolphins, endangered turtles and tuna to the United Kingdom, egg-laying hens to Algeria, Macael marble and even yachts participating in the America’s Cup.

Delia Garcia, ALC-ABC Airport Manager.  He has had a long career in IBAS “out on the runway”, which gives him ideal knowledge of all the operational areas, his colleagues and, of course, the needs of our clients. His motto is: “we all do everything. The same employee is trained to handle the check-in for a flight (with knowledge of numerous systems: iPort, Gonow, Altea, Resiber, Quick pass, DCS, FLY, etc.), boarding, coordination and can even prepare a loading sheet, always with the emphasis on empathy and good personal relationships”

For Ester Sanchez, Head of Passenger Services at ALC, “once you work at the airport, that’s where you will always want to stay. It is a very dynamic job, no two days are the same.”

Controlling the pandemic is dependent, among other things, on improving the pace of the vaccine rollout. Since last December when the first vaccines reached Spain in aircraft holds, IBAS has been actively involved in arranging their transfer to cargo terminals or transit to other destinations.

We are experts in handling all kinds of dangerous goods, such as radioactive material, lithium batteries, flammable liquids, and the prized vaccines we are all anxiously waiting to receive.

Our ground assistance staff have all the necessary training to handle and transport these vaccines on the ground with the appropriate security and efficiency. We also comply with the requirements imposed by both the authorities and each of our customer airlines, and we step up our procedures in specific situations like the unfortunate one we are currently experiencing where handling vaccines has become a very frequent aspect of the service we provide.

COVID vaccines are transported in packages that contain an enormous quantity of dry ice to keep them at the correct temperature. This vast amount of dry ice can release high concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere with harmful health effects if the recommendations are not followed when loading and unloading them, so extreme precautions are required.

Besides, we are the IAG Cargo handling agent at the Madrid cargo terminal, which is where the largest specialist centre for the correct management of temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products is located, with a team specially trained in GDP (Good Distribution Practice) and a fleet of refrigerated vehicles.