As the Northern Hemisphere summer fast approaches, TCR executives Jan De Leeuw and Maxime Baccaert explain how the Brussels Airport-headquartered specialist in rental and operating leases of GSE, as well as ramp assistance and fleet management, ensures that its customers maintain their operations at peak efficiency during these busy months
Jan De Leeuw is TCR’s group commercial director, while Maxime Baccaert is the GSE solutions supplier’s senior business development manager. They explain that, at some airports, their customers’ handling responsibilities might increase by as much as 60 or 70% during the summer months.
The ground service providers who typically face the biggest rise in aircraft turnarounds are those operating at gateways welcoming large numbers of summer tourists, such as in Spain or Italy. Handling all those extra flights needs additional GSE – and exactly what is necessary and how much requires careful thinking beforehand.
Many TCR customers will come to TCR to check on the availability of additional resources prior to the peak season but, says Baccaert, even more frequently his company will approach customers before the summer months to ensure that they have all the GSE and support services in place that will see them through the busiest period of the year. That is all part of the full-service offering that TCR provides, he notes.
In fact, preparation for summer needs to start early, certainly in the spring if not shortly after the New Year, to ensure that the new resources required for the coming summer are introduced smoothly and seamlessly without any strain on customers’ airside operations.
“We are talking about not only ‘flexing up’ any GSE that customers need, it is also about meeting all the other concerns they might have,” Baccaert continues.
Input from both TCR and its client is required to determine what will be needed and when, and how that extra capability can be deployed – this might involve careful assessment of the coming summer flight schedule, for example. It might also involve a careful look back at operations during that season in previous years, and here TCR’s longstanding relationship with many customers means it already has experience of the clients needs in the peak season.
The availability of telematic data derived from TCR-supplied equipment also helps both TCR and its customers to analyse the demands placed on equipment in previous peak periods.
What those demands might be differs from country to country, and from station to station, says De Leeuw. But even when a client needs its GSE fleet to expand by as much as 60 or 70% for the busy period, TCR can nevertheless meet those needs, thanks to its extensive fleet of more than 30,000 units of GSE. “We always have a bit in reserve,” he points out, which allows the company to react quickly to changing customer requirements.
That 30,000-unit inventory is already an impressive one, and it is still growing – thanks to TCR’s ongoing organic development and to what De Leeuw emphasises is the growing popularity of the GSE lease model.
The additional GSE that might be called for covers the full spectrum of apron equipment: from belt loaders, baggage tractors, dollies and carts – as might be expected for handling more passenger volumes – to loaders and even pushbacks.
As indicated above, providing additional GSE to meet many customers’ increased handling demands in summer is only part of the issue for TCR – it also needs to meet other challenges posed by heightened operational throughput.
For example, as much preventive maintenance of clients’ equipment as possible is scheduled for the months prior to the peak period. TCR also ramps up its own maintenance and engineering capability for the summer, primarily through appropriate use of existing resources, including arranging overtime for the company’s experienced and specialised engineers and by longer opening hours of some TCR’s workshops, but also by moving maintenance personnel from station to station as required (just as GSE can also be moved from one TCR station to another depending on the needs of peak season traffic).
In fact, the preparations made for the summer peak, both in terms of additional equipment and staffing requirements, are not dissimilar to the process that TCR goes through to meet the needs of a customer handler setting up at a new station or suddenly increasing their workload by signing up a new carrier customer at an existing station.
In all such cases, it is necessary to plan ahead, to work closely with the customer concerned and then to introduce the additional resources smoothly and flexibly as to meet the increased demands placed on that ground service provider – and in so doing ensure that it continues to operate at peak efficiency.