The number of mishandled bags in the aviation industry increased 6.1% year-on-year in 2010. According to SITA’s 2011 Baggage Report, 29.4 million bags were mishandled globally last year, or 12.07 mishandled bags for every 1,000 passengers – up from 11.38 per 1,000 passengers in 2009 and marking the first increase for three years.
The report cited the increase of passenger traffic as the main reason for the rise in mishandled bags. According to SITA, the US$16 billion worth of profits posted by IATA-reregistered airlines in 2010 would have been much better had it not been for the estimated US$2.9 billion that lost and mishandled luggage is estimated to have cost the airlines last year. Other key reasons cited for the rise include the flight disruption caused by the eruption of the Iceland volcano in April. This was underlined by the fact that of all mishandled bags in 2010, nearly 50% were mishandled in Europe. Overall, the number of bags mishandled due to severe weather and volcanic ash almost doubled to 10% from the 5-6% recorded over the previous five years.
“Mother Nature provided the industry with another notable challenge on the logistics front last year,” the SITA report said. “Overall, there were an estimated 175,000 flight cancellations in Europe and almost 113,000 scheduled flights were cancelled from the 40 busiest airports in North America. The follow-on effects for baggage management were significant as flights were delayed and connections missed.”
‘Transfer Baggage Mishandling’ accounted for 51% of all cases of mishandling last year, making transit passenger by far the most at-risk group when it comes to lost baggage. This was followed by ‘Failed to Load’ and ‘Ticketing Error’.
The SITA report also noted that major trend in 2010 was the decline in the average number of bags being checked in – 1.35 per passenger, compared to 1.47 in 2005. In 2010, only 70.4% of passengers checked-in baggage, making it’s the third year in a row that this percentage has declined, and indicating a definite trend towards passengers travelling lighter.
Last year also saw an increase in the numbers of bags which were never recovered, with a rate of 0.43 unrecovered bags for every 1,000 passengers, compared with 0.4 in 2009. Despite this, SITA noted that very few bags ever disappear completely. Last year more than 50% of mishandled baggage was restored to the owner within 42 hours.