Alliance Ground International (AGI) provides ramp and cargo handling services to a large number of airline customers at airports right across the US. It has more than 30 years of experience of providing ramp handling services for freighter aircraft. Chief operating officer Jared Azcuy explains how the company has weathered the Covid-19 storm
Can you tell us a little bit about AGI, its background and – in particular – its current ramp handling responsibilities?
Alliance Ground International is one of the largest ground handling companies (GHAs) in North America, with a specific focus on the US. AGI, was founded in 1987, while sister companies Cargo Force, Inc and TCSC complete the ground handling group; they specialise in priority mail and airport security services, respectively. The group of companies is interchangeably referred as AGI.
AGI handles some 15,000 widebody freighter aircraft turnarounds each year, some 1.5 million tonnes of cargo and 300,000 tonnes of domestic mail.
At how many stations are you currently ground handling?
AGI has 21 locations in the US, including Puerto Rico. Our largest operation is in Chicago O’Hare. AGI is currently working with 51 airlines with regular scheduled services and numerous charter operations throughout our network. AGI works with all the premier passenger and all-cargo airlines in the world.
What types of GSE do you operate, and in what sorts of numbers?
AGI has an expansive wholly-owned GSE inventory valued at over US$60 million, including 100 maindeck loaders and over 500 forklifts throughout its network, giving it the ability to handle all types of ramp and warehouse operations.
Its GSE fleet includes JBT Commander 60 loaders, JBT Commander 30 loaders, JBT Commander 15 loaders, JBT B1200 pushbacks, TLD TF-7-GR transporters, TLD 4120 T cup ground power units and TLD ASU-600-270 air start units.
AGI has a team of roughly 100 technicians who are 100% dedicated to the upkeep of its GSE equipment. AGI has a strict policy of maintenance of all our GSE equipment based upon the manufacturers’ guidelines.
AGI has workshops at all its major locations with the ability to do all types of maintenance, repair and full overhaul on its equipment. By having this great team, AGI can optimise reliability and have a competitive advantage to achieve 100% on-time performance.
What would you say is AGI’s ‘USP’ in terms of handling, especially ramp handling? How do you stand out from your competition?
We have the ability to respond quickly to our customer needs and challenges that they may face. Our customers operate in a very fast-paced environment that requires constant communication and the ability to adapt to change.
AGI is there to support its airline partners as they are there to support their customers. When our partner airlines succeed, AGI succeeds.
AGI has invested heavily in next-level technology allowing us to provide best-in-class service levels for our airline partners.
Has your business model and scope of operations had to evolve this year in the face of the Covid-19 impact? What steps have you taken to mitigate its effects and keep the business running?
In many ways the pandemic has transformed our service delivery. AGI has had to take numerous steps and precautions to protect the wellbeing of team members. Firstly, we acted early on in deploying a robust Covid-19 mitigation campaign internally – one which exceeded CDC [Centers for Disease Control] guidelines. Our proactive steps have resulted in zero operational disruptions at any of our facilities.
Are you continuing to invest in new GSE and/or open new stations, despite the pandemic?
AGI has newer fleets than its peers, and is constantly investing in new GSE equipment as its airline partners grow in number and place greater demand on ramp operations.
In designing each location’s fleet, AGI invests in contingency GSE to optimise reliability. Our goal is to maximise our GSE equipment usage at all our locations, alongside having the flexibility that allows us to serve charter operations.
If we do see an opportunity to grow our ramp operations and/or if a partner airline has approached us for an increase in ramp operations, we will evaluate the ramp equipment needs and, if necessary, purchase additional assets to provide the required service level.
This is how AGI stands out – with fast decision-making processes that can help our airline partners grow.
Do you envisage a return to normal operations in the fairly near future? What is AGI’s longer term strategy for growth?
Our challenges today are keeping our employees safe and providing the best ramp and warehouse services we can to our partner carriers as they, too, face these same challenges.
AGI is in a good position as a company, as while we still plan to open new stations in 2021, we only plan to open what the airline industry can support.