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Infrastructure, Construction & Developments

TheLocalYokel

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So many experts so little knowledge!!
Just about every unit at BRS has taken on extra staff for the summer and just about every unit has encountered problems getting airside passes.
The handling agents are no different. They have 6-10 crews of 4 staff for arriving aircraft depending how busy it is due to be. If a problem is foreseen this can be increased to more crews by reducing a team to 3. In the event of delays being excessive the crew has to move on to their next assigned aircraft. They simply do not sit around playing cards or drinking coffee. When the delayed aircraft then arrives it has to wait for a crew to be available. It is easy to go on Twatter or Fakebook and rant and rave but it is simple economics not rocket science!! Unfortunately social media and mobile phones with cameras have exacerbated the problems because whereas the crews could slide cases along flatbed trucks airlines now demand they use covered trailers. This means that putting 100 cases on a truck now means putting less on a trailer which means every time the trailer is full everything has to stop to pull the thing forward to load the next truck. All time consuming!
Thank you for your post which puts another slant on the situation.

I don't think any of us has suggested the handling crews sit around amusing themselves: just the opposite in fact as some of us have made the point that if they are so under-staffed it follows that they will be overworked, not skiving. I don't think anyone has criticised the crews themelves on this forum. The target has been the airlines and their handling agents.

I can understand the problems when aircraft are late and add to the scheduled arrivals mix when delays in offloading baggage will be inevitable. However, if it's not down to inadequate staffing levels it ought to follow that in normal circumstances there should be enough staff to handle the aircraft expeditiously. From your remark about airlines now requiring covered trailers which slows down the unloading procedure, that does suggest that there is now an inbuilt additional obstacle that was not previously the case. I take it that the airlines have not arranged with their handling agents to take on more staff to overcome this extra work which, if they haven't, perhaps justifies some of the criticism that has been levelled at the airlines and their handling agents. Or would extra staff not make any difference given the 'musical chairs' element of this part of the procedure (from your description).

Your other point about delays in getting airside passes raises more questions to those of us who have an interest, mainly because we are users of the airport and might be affected. If it's simply a question of bureaucratic and administrative delays on the part of whoever issues the passes (presumably some department of the airport, or perhaps not) then that's inexcusable because the number of staff required for the summer would have been known a long time ago. If, however, the delay stems from the actions of an outside body, either government or quango, why are not the airport and airlines telling the public and certainly local MPs of the reasons if they impact negatively on the service they can provide for their passengers?
 

Jerry

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So many experts so little knowledge!!
Just about every unit at BRS has taken on extra staff for the summer and just about every unit has encountered problems getting airside passes.
The handling agents are no different. They have 6-10 crews of 4 staff for arriving aircraft depending how busy it is due to be. If a problem is foreseen this can be increased to more crews by reducing a team to 3. In the event of delays being excessive the crew has to move on to their next assigned aircraft. They simply do not sit around playing cards or drinking coffee. When the delayed aircraft then arrives it has to wait for a crew to be available. It is easy to go on Twatter or Fakebook and rant and rave but it is simple economics not rocket science!! Unfortunately social media and mobile phones with cameras have exacerbated the problems because whereas the crews could slide cases along flatbed trucks airlines now demand they use covered trailers. This means that putting 100 cases on a truck now means putting less on a trailer which means every time the trailer is full everything has to stop to pull the thing forward to load the next truck. All time consuming!
As a non-expert with very little knowledge your post is very enlightening! Most people generally won't have a clue in what goes on airside, as passenger i always find it fascinating to watch the handling crews work. What i'm surprised about is with airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair always wanting fast turnarounds then i'd have thought containerised luggage would be quicker than people having to handball everything. I'm aware that 737s can't take containers but have heard that BA for Heathrow does at least with their Airbus aircraft, i'm not sure about the other IAG airlines though i have seen Iberia marked containers at CWL.
 

Foxlimayankee

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What RedFlyer has posted certainly brings some context from a handlers point of view, whereas I think the other posts about this topic is viewed from a passengers point of view. Both very valid and both completely understandable. A passenger doesn't necessarily understand the logistics of getting the bags on/off and to/from the aircraft. It's not as simple of most would think.
There does seem to be a growing issue with baggage delivery at BRS, but the first question that needs to be asked, Is this an occurrence when everything is running smoothly or does this happen only when flights are delayed and clash?
Comments I've read in recent times tend to fall around a similar period on that particular day or even just a specific flight. In the grand scheme of things, BRS handles what, 100 flights per day?
As Redflyer says, most turnaround require 4 people. In more demanding times this can be reduced to 3 to make up additional teams. Every aircraft and Airline has different requirements, and each of those Airlines will have a turnaround that is achievable in different ways. For example, EZY/FR will have 25 minute turnaround. They will have X amount of bags that can highly vary by destination. E.G, you're average Domestic flight will have much less bags than a Canaries or Greek flight. Add into the mix hand luggage. You could have as much hand luggage to unload as checked in bags if the flight is full. You could be talking 150+ bags. The same for the outbound. So you're talking 300+ bags in total to handle in less than 25 mins. That is charter flight baggage territory, where charter flights tend to get a 1 hour turnaround.
To put into context lets just say in a 1 hour period there's 10 flights scheduled to land. That's 40 ramp staff. For whatever reason that can quite easily shoot up to 15 if 5 flights get delayed coming back or even arrive early. That's then a requirement of 60 staff if you maintain the 4 person comfortable working team. 50% increase required. Drop those to 3 person teams and you're still 5 people short (Or nearly 2 teams)
BRS is a very "peaky" Airport as the majority of flights to/from there are by based aircraft. Using CWL as an example, there is a good mix of based and non-based aircraft operating flights there (And obviously it's much quieter! But they will staff for the number of flights scheduled anyway, so it balances). This means everything doesn't leave and return at the same time.
However on the flip side, you don't hear about baggage delivery issues at other Airports and other Airports must experience delays as well. Similarly the baggage "trucks" have only in recent times been used at a couple of UK Airport. BRS and LTN some of the few I believe. Many others have been using "trollies" for years.

From what I've heard before, recruitment is becoming increasingly difficult in the Bristol/South West region because employment in the area is generally good, as are wages. Wages at the Airport itself for handlers, contractors and outlets aren't particularly high, so it's difficult to recruit. So it's likely there is still staff shortages. Add into the mix the continual expansion and seasonality of BRS, meaning every year new staff are needed in time for the summer, rather than keeping staff through the winter when they aren't required, puts huge pressure on the recruitment process and the admin side of it, such as Airside passes and of course training and experience.
Airlines have no say in how many staff handlers should employ. They give the contract and expect the handler to meet the schedule, with little care of how they reach that and still remain a profitable handling company. A number of handlers in the UK have gone bust or imploded internally and lost contracts because the business or contract they've taken on wasn't feasible. Aviator being one, which royally screwed Swissport in BHX that as the only handler inherited all of the contracts and caused huge problems there. You would be very surprised to hear what Airlines actually pay for a turnaround.
So although the handler may need to up their game in certain areas, the majority of this I would say boils down to money and contracts, and the huge burden that growing Airports and Airlines put onto handlers with unrealistic expectations.
That being said, one of the key things for customers is information. All too regularly I've seen twitter comments about lack of information. Whether that be a human presence or an announcement early on advising that there will be a delay. Some kind of system in place that can at least pre-warn people to expect a delay.
 

Jerry

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Just as a comparison tomorrow BRS will recieve about 15 non flights from non based aircraft out of 100 departures all together so 15% of it's departures. In comparison Cardiff will have 30 departures, 9 of those departures will be by non based aircraft which is 30% of it's flights which generally operate while the based aircraft are away.
 

TheLocalYokel

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What RedFlyer has posted certainly brings some context from a handlers point of view, whereas I think the other posts about this topic is viewed from a passengers point of view. Both very valid and both completely understandable. A passenger doesn't necessarily understand the logistics of getting the bags on/off and to/from the aircraft. It's not as simple of most would think.
There does seem to be a growing issue with baggage delivery at BRS, but the first question that needs to be asked, Is this an occurrence when everything is running smoothly or does this happen only when flights are delayed and clash?
Comments I've read in recent times tend to fall around a similar period on that particular day or even just a specific flight. In the grand scheme of things, BRS handles what, 100 flights per day?
As Redflyer says, most turnaround require 4 people. In more demanding times this can be reduced to 3 to make up additional teams. Every aircraft and Airline has different requirements, and each of those Airlines will have a turnaround that is achievable in different ways. For example, EZY/FR will have 25 minute turnaround. They will have X amount of bags that can highly vary by destination. E.G, you're average Domestic flight will have much less bags than a Canaries or Greek flight. Add into the mix hand luggage. You could have as much hand luggage to unload as checked in bags if the flight is full. You could be talking 150+ bags. The same for the outbound. So you're talking 300+ bags in total to handle in less than 25 mins. That is charter flight baggage territory, where charter flights tend to get a 1 hour turnaround.
To put into context lets just say in a 1 hour period there's 10 flights scheduled to land. That's 40 ramp staff. For whatever reason that can quite easily shoot up to 15 if 5 flights get delayed coming back or even arrive early. That's then a requirement of 60 staff if you maintain the 4 person comfortable working team. 50% increase required. Drop those to 3 person teams and you're still 5 people short (Or nearly 2 teams)
BRS is a very "peaky" Airport as the majority of flights to/from there are by based aircraft. Using CWL as an example, there is a good mix of based and non-based aircraft operating flights there (And obviously it's much quieter! But they will staff for the number of flights scheduled anyway, so it balances). This means everything doesn't leave and return at the same time.
However on the flip side, you don't hear about baggage delivery issues at other Airports and other Airports must experience delays as well. Similarly the baggage "trucks" have only in recent times been used at a couple of UK Airport. BRS and LTN some of the few I believe. Many others have been using "trollies" for years.

From what I've heard before, recruitment is becoming increasingly difficult in the Bristol/South West region because employment in the area is generally good, as are wages. Wages at the Airport itself for handlers, contractors and outlets aren't particularly high, so it's difficult to recruit. So it's likely there is still staff shortages. Add into the mix the continual expansion and seasonality of BRS, meaning every year new staff are needed in time for the summer, rather than keeping staff through the winter when they aren't required, puts huge pressure on the recruitment process and the admin side of it, such as Airside passes and of course training and experience.
Airlines have no say in how many staff handlers should employ. They give the contract and expect the handler to meet the schedule, with little care of how they reach that and still remain a profitable handling company. A number of handlers in the UK have gone bust or imploded internally and lost contracts because the business or contract they've taken on wasn't feasible. Aviator being one, which royally screwed Swissport in BHX that as the only handler inherited all of the contracts and caused huge problems there. You would be very surprised to hear what Airlines actually pay for a turnaround.
So although the handler may need to up their game in certain areas, the majority of this I would say boils down to money and contracts, and the huge burden that growing Airports and Airlines put onto handlers with unrealistic expectations.
That being said, one of the key things for customers is information. All too regularly I've seen twitter comments about lack of information. Whether that be a human presence or an announcement early on advising that there will be a delay. Some kind of system in place that can at least pre-warn people to expect a delay.
Excellent comprehensive digest of the situation. The point about the employment situtation in the Bristol region is probably germane. In fact, I was going to make the same point in a post yesterday but it then slipped my mind. For example, without overseas bus drivers (mainly from central and eastern Europe) Bristol's bus system would grind to a halt. First West of England had to set up an office in Poland at one point in a desperate attempt to find drivers.

Just as a comparison tomorrow BRS will recieve about 15 non flights from non based aircraft out of 100 departures all together so 15% of it's departures. In comparison Cardiff will have 30 departures, 9 of those departures will be by non based aircraft which is 30% of it's flights which generally operate while the based aircraft are away.
More non-based aircraft would also help to spread the traffic flow generally and help to ease the crowding in the terminal at peak times. Today there are actually 112 departures listed (excluding the Airbus and BAE shuttles which are handled on the South Side anyway) with 22 operated by non-based aircraft (19.6%): 8 Ryanair, 5 Aer Lingus Regional, 4 KLM Cityhopper, 3 easyJet, 1 Aurigny, 1 Flybe/Blue Islands.

More relevant to the baggage handling we've been discussing is the arrivals list of which there are 107 between midnight and midnight today, with the scheduled time spread as follows:

0030-0450 7
0700-0859 4
0900-1059 10
1100-1259 17
1300-1459 9
1500-1659 16
1700-1859 13
1900-2059 12
2100-2259 10
2300-0059 9

Superficially the spread looks reasonable apart from the two hours from 0700 (when the outbound procession is in full swing). Monday morning is the quietest day of the week for the period from midnight: Tuesday-Sunday sees respectively 12, 10, 15, 10, 10, 14 arrivals. This period is often the one that generates a lot of passenger complaints in social media about baggage delays as it follows on from the busy late evening period of the previous day. As Red Flyer and Foxlimayankee have pointed out, it only needs some delayed aircraft to make a very difficult situation.
 

forest1979

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I read today about NCL dev plans, specifically extending their runway. They clearly believe this will bring both jobs and benefits to the airport... how is that for NCL and not BRS (not counting the logistical problems for BRS)
 

TheLocalYokel

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I read today about NCL dev plans, specifically extending their runway. They clearly believe this will bring both jobs and benefits to the airport... how is that for NCL and not BRS (not counting the logistical problems for BRS)
I can recall reading a few weeks ago that NCL were reserving land for a possible runway extension (was it up to an additional 700 metres?) although there were no current plans to extend it. NCL already has a runway over 300 metres longer than BRS.
 

big g

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Just to add to the disruption debate.

This year ATC slot restriction’s are up by 600% the bulk is due to French/Italian and Greek ATC strikes. But BRS is suffering daily with ATC slots on the majority of flights, even domestic flights are suffering.

The problem the Ground handlers face, is they roster to a schedule, when the disruption kicks in, you can’t plan for that. As we have seen over the last month the airlines are cancelling flights last minute, so if they do adjust the roster to compensate and the airlines cancel flights, some days you could end up with 25 staff members not needed for 2-3 hrs. Also you would need to adjust the roster through the day, again you will have staff in the wrong place. If you adjust to the historical delays, then you could end up with a lack of staff at the scheduled peak times.

It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.
 

Seasider

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Thank you to all contributors to this debate, it has opened my eyes to how "baggage handling" works. I only look at it from a passenger viewpoint and about 50% of flights, I am "hand baggage" only.
 

Coathanger16

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I read today about NCL dev plans, specifically extending their runway. They clearly believe this will bring both jobs and benefits to the airport... how is that for NCL and not BRS (not counting the logistical problems for BRS)
I can recall reading a few weeks ago that NCL were reserving land for a possible runway extension (was it up to an additional 700 metres?) although there were no current plans to extend it. NCL already has a runway over 300 metres longer than BRS.
Interesting. I wonder why they feel they need the runway extension - is Emirates currently payload limited from NCL?
 

TheLocalYokel

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Interesting. I wonder why they feel they need the runway extension - is Emirates currently payload limited from NCL?
As I read it the reserving of land at NCL for a possible future runway extension is a sort of insurance in case it is ever needed.

With BRS the land is there but much of it is currently common land so in that sense there is no need to 'reserve' it. The problem would be (apart from cost - a 150-metre tunnel for the A38 would be needed) environmental with all hell breaking loose if the airport tried to take some of the common land for a runway extension.
 

tpm

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TheLocalYokel

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TheLocalYokel

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Vehicle security barriers at front of terminal.

There is a long history of malfunctions leading to queues of airport buses, and accredited coaches and taxis at times. New barriers were introduced some months ago but problems still seem to occur.

Just after 1400 today I arrived on the local bus service A5 to find the exit barriers were jammed and a number of buses etc were 'trapped' on the road in front of the terminal. My bus driver decided (understandably) that he didn't want to drive into that area and asked the security officer in the booth at the entry barriers to allow him out via the 'escape road' which she did. The snag was the bus driver would not let his passengers leave the bus outside the security office because he said he'd been told not to drop off passengers on the red lines. Instead he drove us back to outside the old terminal, a quarter a mile from the current terminal.

In the past when the entry barriers have jammed I've seen lines of buses and airport taxis allowing their passengers to get off on the approach road where there are red lines. I shall contact the airport and the bus company about this.
 

TheLocalYokel

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Hope this works!! this is a link to part of NS Planning site https://planning.n-somerset.gov.uk/...P_3502_EA2-SCOPING_REPORT-_PART_1-2709478.pdf
TLY I know you like to digest this type of thing, chapter 1 & 2 are prob the best of the info in it. Let us know what you think.
It's certainly a lot of homework reading. There is enough information and facts to publish in a small book. I've had a look in some detail at the more practical and interesting (to most followers of the airport anyway) aspects.

The first thing to say is that all this paperwork has been generated primarily to ask the local authority and its consultees the scope and level of detail they will require in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) that will form part of the airport's forthcoming planning application to put the airport into a position where it can handle over 12 mppa (probably by 2025 according to the airport). The level of detail submitted in these documents is suggestive of the airport already having an idea of how they will further expand the terminal building (and other infrastructure), even before the draft master plan is produced at the end of this year and final master plan in 2019.

The documents begin with a reference to the planning consents approved by the local authority in 2011 to take the airport to 10 mppa, together with the status of the various elements not yet completed. These are expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2020.

+ Expansion to aircraft parking areas providing 9 new stands giving 33 stands in total - some have already been built of course

+ Second multi storey car park - already mentioned in a previous post

+ Erection of three-storey administration building north-west of terminal with associated parking following demolition of existing administration building. However, a further note appears to be at odds with this, stating that the administration building will be south of the airport

+ Security control post

+ Silver Zone Car Park extension (final phase to be completed)

+ Additional car-parking area to south to include relocation of car-hire, valet service and associated reception building (car rental consolidation centre (CRCC)

+ Erection of 5m high noise-reduction wall (a revised design is being taken forward)

These elements are also expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2020 under the airport's permitted development rights:

+ New airline office building

+ Extension to checkpoint building and new bypass lane

+ Reconfiguration of access road (southern area)

+ New administration building with visitor and staff car parking (relocation)

+ Two new coaching gates extension to existing forward coaching lounge

+ Stone Farm car parking (130 spaces) and new bus access

+ New perimeter road (central area)

+ Radar site car parking

+ Silver Zone staff waiting area

+ Strategic sequential radar (SSR) monopole tower

+ West walkway coaching gates (4 no.) and associated new bussing pick up To be completed post Q1 2020 road (existing substation to be repositioned).

These elements of the 2011 planning consents will be completed after the first quarter of 2020:

+ Third multi storey car park - mentioned in an earlier post

+ A covered pedestrian link bridge

+ Re-configure access roads - partially complete

+ Upgrade Northside surface car park

Looking to the proposed development to initially enable the airport to reach 12 mppa, a mass of stats is submitted in support. Obviously the local authority will need to have an overarching idea of the development before it can decide on the scope of the EIA, even though a planning application is yet to be submitted.

As part of its forthcoming planning application to have the capacity raised to 12 mppa the airport says in these documents that:

+ The increase of 2 mppa will result in, approximately, an additional 23,800 flights per year once 12 mppa is reached.

+ The airport wants to remove the seasonal limits on night flights - currently 3,000 movements in summer (BST) and 1,000 movements in winter (GMT) to be replaced with 4,000 movements annually irrespective of season. Clearly the airport is beginning to struggle with its summer ration whereas the winter is under-used, albeit some ten percent can be borrowed from the next season or carried over from the previous season at present.

+ The existing terminal does not have the capacity to handle 12 mppa so extension to the current terminal (further extensions actually) will be needed on the eastern, western and southern sides A new eastern walkway and connected pier will also feature and there will be new road layouts, a new eastern taxiway, widened taxiways elsewhere (this is why I said earlier that this seems to be getting ahead of the draft and final master plans). The airport wants the current restrictions on stands 37 and 38 (towing stands) to be removed. They also want an enlarged Silver Zone car park with no seasonal restrictions.

I also noted that the airport owns 16 hectares of land immediately to the south of the current 196-hectare site.

All this is a flavour of the situation. If anyone has the time or inclination to read the entire 'file' it's available at the link provided by Jono and tpm.
 
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