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CHECKED baggage delivery targets reached 99.1 per cent in 2011, the highest rate of successful delivery since the report was first produced and saving the industry US$650 million more than 2010.The baggage report, produced by travel industry IT specialist SITA, shows the mishandled rate has more than halved since 2007, down 52.4 per cent from 18.88 bags per thousand passengers in 2007 to 8.99 bags per thousand last year.Francesco Violante, chief executive of SITA said: "During 2011, even though we saw a rise in the number of passengers travelling to 2.87 billion passengers, the industry achieved a reduction in mishandled bags to 25.8 million. This is 6.5 million fewer bags mishandled than 2010’s figure of 32.3 million.“Of course, 2011 was less challenging than 2010 when adverse weather and volcanic ash clouds caused major disruption, but the fact that the industry has halved the mishandled rate over the past five years is an enormous achievement which has benefited millions of passengers and directly delivered improvements to airline earnings. “These results are due to concerted efforts by airlines, airports and ground handlers through the IATA Baggage Improvement Program; increased focus on standards and best practices by the Airports Council International and the implementation of sophisticated baggage management solutions.”Despite the great strides made by the air transport industry to improve mishandling over the last few years, the main – and growing – contributor to the problem is ‘transfer bags’. Typically, these bags go astray when passengers and their luggage are moving from one aircraft to another or from one carrier to another en route to their final destination. In total, transfer bags account for 53 per cent of all delayed luggage and cost the industry at least US$1.36 billion per annum. Violante said: “Our report highlights various initiatives to address the transfer bag problem and if the industry is able to focus on improving the transfer bag performance, the savings in penalty costs for airlines and the passenger experience could improve even faster. SITA will continue to work with the community to ensure that the best processes and technologies are used to conquer this challenge.”Over the past year, as well as a drop in the overall mishandling rate, the number of bags lost or stolen (ie, not returned to the passenger) also plummeted by 45 per cent from 1.15 million to 640,000, a welcome improvement for both passengers and airlines. The vast majority of mishandled bags are reunited with their owners in less than 48 hours and in 2011 only a small fraction, just 2.47 per cent of the mishandled bags, or 640,000 bags, failed to show up at all compared with 3.56 per cent or 1.15 million bags in 2010.The SITA Baggage Report 2012 describes how the rapid adoption of mobile devices, and the evolution of the “me-centric” passenger, has created demand for real-time information to be delivered to hand-held devices. At the same time, self-service bag check-in and tracing are also expected. For airlines and airports to meet these passenger expectations, an improvement in the quality, accuracy and sharing of data in relation to baggage movements is required. All the stakeholders – ground handlers, airlines, and airports – have to be part of the collaborative process ensuring synchronicity of data flow behind the scenes.
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