Barbados: GAIA Baggage Delays Being Fixed

(BARBADOS TODAY) – The sometimes frustratingly slow baggage collection system at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) has been called out by St Thomas MP Cynthia Forde. However, the Minister of Tourism says a fix has already been introduced.

In fact, the Tourism Minister revealed that the first bags should be seen in the Arrivals Hall of the GAIA within 15 minutes of a plane landing and the disembarkation process starting.

Minister Gooding-Edghill informed the House during the fourth day of the Estimates debate, government held meetings with the two big baggage handling companies operating at the airport and an agreement was reached on time standards that must be met regarding the turnaround time for luggage.

In fact, the St Michael West Central MP informed the Chamber that a system involving fines for breaches of the standard operating procedures had been agreed on.

According to the Tourism Minister: “It is a challenge that we inherited but it is a challenge we intend to fix. What we have done is that we sat down with the ground handlers of Barbados – GCG Ground as well as Caribbean Aircraft Handling – those are the two major ground handlers…

“What we found was that we had an inordinate delay on some days with the baggage coming off the aircraft. We had meetings with the ground handling companies and I am pleased to say they were present at all requested meetings and were fully engaged.

What we have moved to is a situation where if they were unable to adhere to standard operating procedures, then we would have a statutory fine or a consensual fine.”

In fact, the minister disclosed that a 15-minute time standard had been agreed on for the first bag to be available in the Arrivals Hall after an aircraft lands.

“From the time an aircraft touches down at Grantley Adams International Airport, it comes to the gate . . . then there is a process that has to commence . . . .We took a series of steps from the time of arrival . . . until the first bag is delivered to the back area where Customs must do their inspections before the bag is then sent through to the Arrivals Hall for the guests,” he outlined.

The House was informed that an agreement was reached with the ground handling companies and the significant delays registered last December had eased.

“You were seeing the greater efficiencies we were able to make there and customers have been commending the GAIA team and the ground handlers for the work they do,” he pointed out.

However, Gooding-Edghill explained that if some airlines did not prioritise bags such as premium bags or business class, those bags were sometimes packed in a way that did not allow them to become the first bags out.

“If the aircraft, from its original destination, packs the aircraft the way they are meant to, then  the first off would be the premium bags,” he stated.

He added: “Because there are penalties attached. . . the ground handlers are now incentivised to ensure that they meet the standard.”