Ryanair terminates Swissport contract to do self handling

Swissport staff performing ramp handling to a Ryanair plane in Madrid airport / Flickr-ÁlvaroBa

After over seven years Ryanair terminates Swissport contract, both for passengers and ramp handling, in Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport. The reason behind this is that Aena finally accepted the Ryanair request to perform self ramp handling.

Ramp handling is limited in the Spanish airports
The ramp handling in the Spanish airports is not open and can be performed only by those agents who have a license. In fact, the second phase for the handling tender is currently under process. It is precisely this phase which will determine the new companies entitled to offer ramp handling services to airlines at Madrid airport.

Apart from the ramp handling services provided by third parties, airlines can request their own self ramp handling permit. The number of airlines allowed to do self handling at an airport is limited. This is due to several factors like lack of space for equipments. Until now, Ryanair had received accreditation for self ramp handling at most of the airports where they operate. However, their request to do so in Madrid had been refused some years ago.

Now, the Spanish airport operator—Aena—and the Civil Aviation authority—AESA—seem to have finally authorised Ryanair to perform self ramp handling at Madrid airport as well.

Ryanair terminates Swissport contract
Thus, vozpópuli informed yesterday about the fact that Ryanair terminates Swissport contract in Madrid in order to save costs by operating self handling.

Apparently, the contact which had been signed in February 2007, established that either party was allowed to terminate it without prior notice. Hence, some weeks ago Ryanair informed Swissport of the termination after failure in reaching an agreement with them.

According to Juan Luis Viton—commercial director for Swissport—“this is due to economical reasons and not to quality service”. On the other hand, José Antonio Fernández—USO union representative—said “the company squeeze workers. Even an only person has to unload the plane, when three or four people should be needed”. According to Fernández “it may take up to an hour since the baggage is unloaded until the passenger gets it”.

As of October 26, Ryanair will start to operate self ramp handling in Madrid. This includes loading and unloading the aircrafts, carrying the baggage to the conveyor belts, etc. As for the passenger handling, Ryanair will use Lesma Handling. Ryanair already works with Lesma Handling in most of the Spanish airports.

Staff subrogation
The Spanish regulations establish that Ryanair and Lesma, in this case, will have to subrogate staff from Swissport. Therefore, during the forthcoming weeks, the number of employees affected will be defined. Out of 800 employees who currently work for Swissport in Madrid, they are expecting to subrogate around 300. According to the USO union, 38% of the ramp handling staff and 44% of the passenger handling employees will be affected. 

The subrogated staffs are supposed to keep the same work conditions. However, in some cases their responsibilities will have to change. Besides, employees and company have not reached an agreement on the wage reviews for 2013 and 2014. Thus, unless there is a deal before the staff transfer, the subrogated staff will not benefit from those reviews. As a consequence, Swissport unions called a strike in Madrid and Lanzarote for August 31.

Swissport is currently one of the three only companies which have a license to perform ramp handling to third parties in Madrid airport. The other two are Iberia and Groundforce. 

According to this piece of news, Aena expect to announce the new licenses in November.

Photo: Swissport staff performing ramp handling to a Ryanair plane in Madrid airport / ÁlvaroBa