Government orders airlines and ground handlers to use energy efficient equipment

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has asked airlines and ground handling companies (GH) to phase out airport equipment over twelve years old and switch to electric or fuel-efficient variants by May 2022 .

While companies praised the ministry’s green initiative, they said the implementation timeline is tight, especially following the financial challenges facing the aviation industry during the pandemic.

Ground assistance covers functions such as check-in, passenger boarding, cargo loading and unloading, aircraft cleaning, etc. While domestic airlines are allowed to perform self-handling, foreign airlines are dependent on GH companies.

Airlines and GH companies use motorized and non-motorized equipment such as low-floor buses, step ladders, pushback tugs, cargo loaders, baggage tractors, pallet trucks, tow bars , among others.

“It has been decided that all GH agencies and self-handling airlines at airports with passenger movements of more than 3.5 million passengers per year will have to comply with the minimum equipment standard. and ground support vehicle, ”the civil aviation ministry said in a November statement. 1 order. The order would cover around twenty-five major airports in the country.

He said the decision was taken in order to ensure the use of state-of-the-art equipment and best practices in accordance with the International Air Transport Association’s Airport Management Manual, as well as to maintain an environmentally friendly environment. environment in airports. All self-handling companies and airlines in GH must ensure strict adherence to the minimum standards for ground support equipment (GSE) and vehicles within six months.

According to the decree, the maximum age limit for GSEs will be twelve years. Refurbished equipment will also not be allowed under any circumstances, he said. The government also wants companies to install electrical equipment or use diesel vehicles that meet Bharat-VI emission standards.

“After a careful assessment of the guidelines for our equipment, we will submit a feasibility report to the ministry. As IndiGo is committed to sustainable growth, we have already implemented a switch from diesel-powered GSEs to electric GSEs at various airports, ”said a spokesperson for the airline.

R Ramana, Director and CEO of GH AISATS, said: “The standards will force us to make investments of millions of dollars. Equipment such as pushback tractors or low loaders (pallet loaders) are made to order. Usually it takes 6-8 months to receive them after placing an order. The intention of the policy is correct. Each airport in the country came with its own policy, so common standards will help. But its implementation schedule needs to be extended and adapted so that airlines and ground handling companies are able to meet the conditions based on the implications of capital spending. “

AISATS is one of two GH companies owned by Air India and operates at five airports. AISATS is in the process of being acquired by the Tata group with the airline. The other company AI Airport Services Limited operates at the other airports. Its CEO, Rambabu CH, said the government issued the order based on recommendations from GH agencies, but called for an extension of the six-month deadline due to the funds crisis facing the company. .

“Overall, it is a good policy that will lead to the standardization of equipment, bring it up to international standards and, above all, help reduce pollution. We welcome the initiative. There are still some challenges. One is the ability to implement as stated due to the unavailability of electrical versions of some specialized equipment. Second, the time it takes for the entire industry to switch. The Ground Handling Association will make a representation to the government regarding these points, ”said Murali Ramachandran, Indian CEO of Celebi Aviation Holding, a GH

agency.

“We have moved to electric units while making new investments over the years. All of our baggage tractors are electric. Many luggage loaders and passenger ladders are electrically powered. We have also invested in robot taxis (which allow planes to run without an engine), ”added Ramachandran.

Industry sources also point out that an adequate number of charging points will also need to be provided at airports to support the use of electrical ground assistance equipment.

Some heavy equipment such as low loaders can also be refurbished and used for up to twenty years if refurbished according to the recommendations of the original equipment manufacturers. The policy could likely allow the use of equipment of this value that is refurbished and certified safe for use by OEMs, a source said.

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