Havas makes the great move and eyeing up an even brighter future

posted on 14th May 2019
Havas makes the great move and eyeing up an even brighter future

Turkish ground handler Havas has had a busy start to the year as it moved operations from Istanbul Ataturk Airport to the new Istanbul Airport in early April.
This has seen Havas double its footprint and it is now spread over more than 40,000 square metres, and it was part of a €21 million investment.
The move was made over 30-hour-long transfer operation from Ataturk, delivering 604 ground handling service equipment to its new facilities via 186 trailer trucks.
Mete Erna, Deputy General Manager, Havas, sees two main operational challenges in 2019: “Staff recruitment (while salary expectations are high in the labour markets, cost pressures are also high). Transfer and settling to new Istanbul Airport.”
On staff, last year, he says Havas had a few difficulties in recruiting and retaining employees but it has overcome these with adjustments in benefits, performance management schemes and to-the-point publicity.
“We put healthy labour relations ahead of profitability because profitability cannot be sustainable without happy customers and customers cannot be happy without happy employees,” Erna notes.
There are opportunities for Havas to exploit in 2019 in his view – notably merger and acquisition opportunities in new markets, the growth in Turkish leisure traffic and capacity growth due to the new Istanbul Airport.
But what trends does he see emerging in the marketplace? “Automation (self-check in/self-bag drop/self-boarding etc) continues to spread. More consolidation expected in GH market due to slowing growth of aviation. More airlines cease operations or merge due to growing costs (especially fuel) and difficulty to reach financing,” he forecasts.
The European industry has been shocked by the closure of airlines such as Germania and flybmi, but Erna although expects further airlines insolvencies, he believes Havas manages exposure to such risks “prudently” and he does not expect any meaningful adverse effects to the handler’s finances if more go under.
Ground handlers’ margins are constantly under pressure, and in his opinion this is because of tough competition in the airline industry most carriers have to survive with very competitive air fares and are focusing more on costs. “However, the majority of their costs (aircraft leasing, crew, fuel, airport charges) are out of their control so they focus on GH and other marginal costs,” he says.
“Ground Handlers need to establish transparent and trust-based relationship with their customers,” he says. “There are not too many airlines who are ready to pay a penny more for more quality than they need but all airlines will listen to their supplier’s problems because they understand that a healthy airline needs healthy handlers in its network.”
Much talk today is about the need to invest in innovation and technology, but Erna is cautious and feels GH companies must plan any investment diligently. “While there are many successful examples of innovation and new technology being introduced in GH, there are also many examples of such investments eventually not working for certain GH companies,” he says.
“Technology itself is not enough to bring improvements. The success in managing technology and innovation introduction projects is also a key criteria for success of such projects.” Erna believes GH companies should be delicate when deciding to invest in any technology because not only the choice of technology, while the timing of introducing that technology plays an important role in the success of such projects.