GSE buyer interview – CAS

posted on 14th June 2018

Cargo Airport Services (CAS) offers cargo handling at some of the US’s biggest air gateways – New York JFK, Dallas/Fort Worth, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Miami and Newark amongst them. In fact, claiming to be the largest ground handler in North America, it needs a GSE inventory to match

CAS’s GSE has to handle the freight of some of the world’s biggest cargo airlines, including Air France and Martinair, Cargolux, China Airlines, EVA and Korean Air. In fact, it serves over 80 carriers in about 30 facilities at 14 North American international airports. As such, notes CAS’s CEO, Mike Duffy, it operates a wide range of equipment suitable for wide-bodied aircraft, including main deck loaders, lower deck loaders, pushback tractors, tugs, dollies, forklifts and so on.

Moreover, he confirms, as CAS expands, so it expects to acquire more GSE. He and his colleagues consider their ground support equipment and other procurement needs at least as frequently as annually, Duffy points out, “but if a business opportunity exists we will evaluate our inventory to see if we have spare equipment and – if not – we will begin the procurement process.”

Expansion may come in the form of opening up at a new station, or it may mean that new business has been gained at an existing station either with an existing carrier customer or with an entirely new airline client. Or, it may come through acquisition – for example, CAS acquired Cargo Services and PHS, two Florida-based ground handlers – just last year. In addition to requiring new GSE for organic and inorganic company growth, he notes: “As equipment ages, we need a replacement plan as well.

“JBT Aerotech is our preferred manufacturer but (we) may look elsewhere as pricing, availability and issues of transportation will also come into play,” Duffy explains. One particular priority, as for so many handlers of late, has been

minimising the company’s environmental footprint. Not only is this a good thing from his point of view, but there is also increasing pressure from external sources to be more eco-friendly. Indeed, “certain airports are requiring our GSE to be more green in the future”, Duffy confirms.

GSE buyer interview – Azzurra

Azzurra Ground Handling Services is a ramp and passenger handler based at London Heathrow’s Terminal 4. A new company forming part of the wider GH Italia concern, it was previously part of the Alitalia set-up. Handling 10 carriers at LHR, including Alitalia, Malaysia Airlines and Gulf Air, it is looking to grow yet further

Maurizio Beni, Azzurra’s commercial manager, notes the comprehensiveness of the handler’s current offering: “We provide all passenger handling services, right from check-in, while our ramp handling includes loading and unloading, weight and balances, push-back and towing. In fact, we handle everything except cleaning and deicing,” he informs.

Azzurra is the only T4-based handler to look after the A380 giant – which it does for Malaysia Airlines. With its client carriers’ aircraft ranging from small narrow-bodies right up to the A380 superjumbo, it has to employ a comprehensive range of GSE encompassing tractors and other vehicles. These come from sources such as The Little Big Tug Company (LBTC, from which it rents three T80 tractors, one of them used to handle the MAS A380), TCR, Douglas and Charlatte, and include both rented and owned equipment.

It also uses a wide array of belt-loaders, dollies, trucks and ULD carriers of many different sorts. Some of its vehicle fleet is electrically powered, not only good for the environment but also cost-efficient, Beni considers.

Already perhaps the fifth-biggest handler at the UK’s largest and busiest air gateway, Beni and his colleagues are looking to grow the company yet further. “We want to take on more customers, perhaps even look at handling cargo,” he informs. Although keen not to grow too quickly, expansion will come in phases, Beni says, while all the time Azzurra will offer “a unique style of service” to its customer airlines.

Thus, as well as the usual rounds of GSE refurbishment and replacement for a motorised fleet of GSE that may number up to 70 vehicles, new purchases may well be on the cards.