Contract-flipping is a widely used practice at airports. In Canada, all foreign airlines, and to that effect, all but one that I know of, domestic carriers practice some form of contracting-out ground handling services. Outsourcing and contract-flipping have managed to become widely accepted global business practices; airlines and Airport Authorities may use multiple ground handlers to service their operational needs.
Workers, who in some cases have been with a single employer for more than 10 years, 20 years or even 25 years will see their jobs eliminated overnight due to industry-accepted contract flipping practices. In the same context, some workers will move from one employer to another, and yet another employer, and often come right back to their initial employer to secure steady work hours. And often times these workers will work multiple jobs to survive financially. Recycling of workers at airports from employer to employer is frequent too frequent; compounding the issues is high turnover rates relating to tough working conditions and low wages. Ground Handlers challenges are nothing particularly new to hear about for those who work in the industry and are reading this opinion; however, for those who know little or have no knowledge about airport operations; the reoccurring theme of starting over, and over again, for workers and having multiple employers doing the same job is raising health concerns for mental health due to stress and anxiety; doing the same work on one aircraft for $20 an hour to all of a sudden going next door and work on the same aircraft type and earning $14 an hour is to say atleast comical in our advanced societies.
Right now, there are some serious challenges facing ground handlers to stay in business. Airlines have cut their operations to bare-bone levels. Just how will the current crises in air travel sector impact ground handling companies is the big question. Already operating on single-digit profit margins if any profit margins, we may see one of two things happen; another wave of global ground handling outfits consolidating, and or a wave of credit protection filing that could see the disappearance of an entire industry. And where will this leave precarious workers who get aircraft up in the air? up in the air…
In the wake of a the current economic crises there is a real chance an entire industry may be wiped out. Airports around the world may be required to bring ground handling service in-house in order to maintain levels of service for the traveling public and airlines; leading to the stabilizating of front-line workers wages and benefits and effectively winding-up contract-flipping practices for what I hope will be for good.
The Brussel Times article below is an interesting read for those that want learn more about this current crises that is disprupting ground handling across global markets.