British Airways has launched one of the fastest transfer baggage sorting systems in Europe at its second busiest hub, London Gatwick Airport.
The new £25 million facility, designed to meet transfer baggage throughput beyond the next decade, has gone fully operational after six months of confidence trials. It is the first major baggage system to be funded by the airline and is geared to handle around100 bags per minute at peak times.
The capacity of the single-site transfer facility will reach 12 million bags per year by 2012, with the capability of processing up to 5,600 bags in peak hours.
The new centralised facility replaces two separate baggage units which relied heavily on a manual operation with processes susceptible to failure as a result of the airline’s rapid growth outstripping the airport’s complex baggage infrastructure.
Based on the latest high speed tilt-tray sorters and featuring 100 flight destination sort chutes, the new unit can receive, identify, code, screen and automatically sort British Airways transfer baggage arriving at the North terminal in under seven minutes - twice as fast as the former process. The single dedicated unit significantly reduces the risk of misplaced or delayed luggage.
Mike Street, British Airways Director of Customer Services and Operations, said: “Our investment in this new facility is delivering real benefits to our operations and our customers. The new unit is a major asset for our operations, speeding up the sorting, transfer and delivery of bags and that means a better service for our customers.”
Funded and operated by British Airways, the new unit has been jointly developed with BAA. The build and design project was fast track - work started on the site in August 1998 with first bags going through the new system just eight months later, in April 1999.