Airside Winter 2019

OmniServ’s handling for Ryanair at Stansted reaps rewards

OmniServ began providing bespoke, managed handling services for Ryanair at London Stansted earlier this year, and it believes that the difference in quality quickly became apparent

OmniServ is not known as one of the bigger ground or passenger handling service providers but it occupies a distinct niche in these markets. In December 2016 it began providing managed handling services for the Scandinavian airline Norwegian at London Gatwick. Called Red Handling to match the airline brand, this was OmniServ’s first such foray into ground handling.

OmniServ then developed Blue Handling (again, to match the carrier’s brand) for Ryanair at London Stansted, and began providing passenger and ground handling services for the Irish low-cost carrier (LCC) in February this year at the airport.

According to OmniServ, Blue Handling has already delivered a “90% improvement on performance and satisfaction levels compared with a year ago, under the previous supplier”.

Stansted – located north of London – is Ryanair’s biggest hub, and OmniServ developed Blue Handling as a completely bespoke product for the LCC following the approval of its tender as part of a wide-ranging competitive process.

OmniServ worked closely with the Ryanair team at Stansted to develop the details of the customised Blue Handling offering in the wake of the contract award. Blue Handling involves OmniServ managing nearly 1,000 staff for Ryanair.

Blue Handling takes in both above- and below-wing ground handling services, including the provision of ramp and passenger service agents, toilet and water services, de-icing, aircraft towing, cargo handling, ticket desk staff, baggage handling and operations.

OmniServ developed a new brand identity, logos and uniforms – previously, there had been no single corporate identity for Ryanair’s Stansted ground handling operations. Although OmniServ recruits and manages all the staff, they thus appear to all concerned as employees of the airline itself.

All these employees go through “extensive training to unite them behind the new brand and instil them with a sense of mission – to provide the best possible service for Ryanair’s passengers”, OmniServ says.

Indeed, Rob Stefanovic, senior commercial manager at OmniServ, observes: “We wanted team members to feel part of the brand. They now have a strong sense of teamwork, passion and pride in their jobs.”

Meanwhile, Ryanir also invested in new equipment and technologies to support the transition. Acquisitions included GSE such as pushback tugs, electric belt tractors (EBTs), baggage belts and trailers – all bought as new assets.

Ryanair operations director Adrian Dunne enthuses: “Blue Handling has been a major success, and was up and running very quickly, delivering above and beyond what we would have expected.”

All-in-one package

Paul Williams, OmniServ’s head of business development, tells Airside that Blue Handling – as is also the case with Red Handling for Norwegian – is “as close to self-handling as an airline can get” without the carrier having to recruit, train and manage the staff itself.

“The model [of both Blue and Red Handling] has been extremely successful,” says Williams. “And we want to expand it further.”

This might involve offering other bespoke managed handling services for carriers in the UK or in mainland Europe, anywhere where an airline has a sizeable operation and is looking for managed service provision. It could also involve taking the product to the US, where OmniServ’s parent company ABM already provides various airport and airline services at more than 100 airports.