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Ground Handling Transformation


As part of its transformation programme, the airline needed to extract greater value and efficiencies from its in-house ground handler.  This imperative came at the same time as the ground handling market was being liberalised in its base country and opened up to competition.  Whilst supporting opening of the market, the challenge was to maintain the delicate balance between third party customer retention and delivering improved service and cost outcomes to the home carrier (and primary customer).

Additionally, the client posed the question of the continued viability of self-handling given their renewed focus on financials and service.  This had not been answered historically due underlying people and legacy concerns and an independent assessment of an alternative approach was required.


A diagnostic and benchmarking exercise conducted across peer carriers, ground handlers and airports underpinned the endorsement of our proposed solution to move to highly optimal contractual standards, service delivery outcomes and contract financial performance. 

In designing the solutions and “go to market prospect” that saw Saudia implement material changes to handling practices, contract standards and engagement models, a significant effort was applied to coaching and mentoring the Saudia team to “bring them on the journey”.  The solutions identified collaboratively would only “stick” if the client team not only believed in the cause, but proactively advocated this “new model” as the defacto standard going forward.

Further, Saudia was introduced to best-in-class tools and vendors that would support Saudia’s vision, where historically the client had not necessarily explored bespoke alternatives.


The ground handling transformation approach was endorsed and implemented and has delivered the following:

  • Significant unit cost improvement of >20% in ground handling costs;
  • Retention of positively contributing third party carrier handling with improved ops outcomes;
  • Major service improvements, including award of Skytrax 4* award, not negatively affected by cost transformation;
  • Outsourced handling across all markets;
  • Improved airport relationships that are delivering improved local airport outcomes.