On the Ground in Timor-Leste

December 2nd, 2014 - Ground handling services reduce costs and boost efficiency

​Airlines are increasingly turning to companies offering ground handling services as a way of improving the speed, efficiency and accuracy of their operations, says Manel-Ximenes Soares, air operations manager of SDV in Timor-Leste.

"Using ground handling services means that airlines and helicopter companies do not need to invest in special equipment and in the recruitment and training of ground handling staff," Soares adds. "Outsourcing ground handling is a cost-effective option that boosts the security of operations."

Ground handling covers a wide range of services including passenger check-ins, the calculation of the weight and balance of the aircraft and passenger boarding. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), an association of airlines, estimates that airlines now outsource over half of the ground handling that takes place at airports around the world and that the trend is increasing.

SDV has handled ground services in Timor-Leste, Southeast Asia, for the past 12 years. Its clients include New Zealand-based airline Vincent Aviation and national carrier Air France as well as U.S. energy group Conoco Phillips and Italian oil services group Saipem.

SDV has 21 staff dedicated to ground handling in Timor-Leste, an oil-rich nation that won independence from Indonesia in 2002. Based in the Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, SDV employees are easily identified by their light blue uniforms, Soares says.

SDV’s ground handling services include the checking in of passengers, luggage and cargo, the boarding of passengers and luggage and the issuance of passenger and cargo manifests. Special services for oil and gas companies include the safety screening of bags and passengers as well as alcohol and drug tests for offshore crews.

SDV also provides so-called "meet and greet" services at Dili airport that help passengers with arrival and departure formalities such as clearing immigration and customs and paying airport taxes.

"SDV can arrange the payment of all charges for passengers, meaning that they do not have to worry about bringing the right amounts of cash and then claiming back expenses," says Soares. SDV also organizes transfers from airports to hotels and can arrange the booking and payment of hotels and restaurants.

It’s unusual for logistics providers to offer ground handling services to airlines. SDV’s Timor-Leste branch is the only country in the SDV group to offer such services, for example. However, Rafael Ribeiro, managing director for SDV in Timor-Leste, is confident of the future, especially as the government has plans to expand the airport with the support of private investors.

"We see considerable business opportunities in Timor-Leste," says Ribeiro. "We want to be part of the country’s future development."

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