Leasing GSE offers all sorts of advantages for operators of that equipment; we talk to a handler at one of the world’s busiest gateways about the benefits of this particular method of acquiring GSE
Among the numerous handlers who choose to lease part of their GSE fleet is ASC Cargo Handling, which began operations at London Heathrow International Airport in June 2010. ASC, or Azerbaijan Service Company, is part of Silk Way Holdings, the group that also includes freighter operators Silk Way Airlines and Silk Way West. ASC’s GSE fleet at the UK’s busiest gateway consists of two belt loaders, four electric tugs, 12 baggage dollies and carts, one pushback tractor, one set of aircraft steps and two box lorries. It also leases 10 forklifts for its cargo warehouse operations.
Most of these vehicles are leased from Rushlift, the UK GSE supplier that specialises in long-term hire. Rushlift has its own workshop on the airport perimeter. The remainder of the ASC GSE fleet is leased from Heathrow-based Seneca Aviation, another specialist in contract hires.
According to ASC’s airport services manager, Luca Bevilacqua, hiring equipment represents a very cost-effective way for a handler such as his to acquire its GSE. “Fleet demands change constantly, and hiring/leasing arrangements can be adapted to suit business requirements,” he points out. ASC has been leasing GSE for periods of about three years, and has chosen to acquire all its GSE in this way; it owns none of its GSE fleet at all.
Another reason for going down the hiring and leasing road is the back-up support that typically comes as part of any such deal. Ongoing maintenance provision is “essential”, Bevilacqua says, alongside a call-out breakdown service, which “must be built into the leasing arrangements”.
The hiring/leasing option seems to be growing in popularity at Heathrow, just as much as it is in many other gateways around the world. There are a few specialists that offer what he describes as “efficient and competitive leasing” at the airport.
ASC has also looked at innovative options for optimising GSE fleet utilisation, as well as procurement. Notably, it has shown itself a big supporter of vehicle sharing. Today, it pools its equipment with that of another handler at Heathrow, a policy that has not only allowed it to make best use of the combined fleet but also made it possible for each handler to cut its own costs. The strategy is also favoured by the operating authority at the gateway, Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL), because it helps reduce congestion on the ramp, with consequential positive effects on accident rates and fuel use.