Ground Services

ISAGO overhaul paying off and more plans are in the pipeline

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Overhauling the IATA Safety Audit of Ground Handling (ISAGO) has been a “game-changer” and plans are afoot for more change, delegates heard at IGHC in Madrid today.

ISAGO was given a revamp by IATA in 2017 and last year was the first full year that the new audit model was used across the ground handling industry.

IATA’s acting head of ground operation audits, Paul Fleming told delegates today that future plans could see it further rolled out as he has been charged by IATA’s board of governors to explore a potential mandate of ISAGO for the association’s member airlines.

He said this is only at an exploration stage and one of the options and ideas being looked at but admits it will be tough to carry out due to the sheer number of ground service providers (GSP) across the globe and IATA can not do an audit for all these GSPs.

“We need more out of the box thinking,” Fleming said. “We need a collaborative approach moving forward.”

In 2019, he said auditors will carry out 250-300 audits across the globe at 50 new locations, which is part of a shift by GSPs to choose different stations to be audited. Fleming noted that the more stations of GSPs audited the better.

Fleming told delegates that in 2018 245 audits were carried out and of those, 4776 findings were discovered, a sharp increase on 2017 when the previous ISAGO model was used.

The new ISAGO audit saw a shift in focus to corporate management and oversight of ground operations, standardisation and results. Fleming said audits are now more in-depth and better auditors are used.

In 2017 of the 221 audits, 774 findings were found, in 2016 from 252 audits, there was 983 findings and in 2015, 911 findings were found in the 253 audits.

Fleming said this was due to the more “thorough” audits. “We are trying to create a more robust set of standards,” he said. “I think the results (from 2018) justify why they (overhauling ISAGO) has been a game-changer.”

There are currently 186 ISAGO registered GSPs operating in 311 stations at 211 airports worldwide, but still a lack of airlines, as only 17 are ISAGO registered.

“17 airlines is rather disappointing, we have to admit that,” he said. “One of the reasons is because they are wanting to see what happens with ISAGO.”

“We are thought seeing a lot more interest in ISAGO from the airlines in the last year,” he said. “They are standing up and taking notice now.”

Fleming was generally upbeat about the future of ISAGO. “The future looks quite bright, very challenging. I have my brief to try and make a difference,” he said. “We need to work with GSPs as it is not something IATA wants to do alone.”