Johannesburg - Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) said on Monday it has managed to reduce baggage pilferage to 0.2 incidents per thousand bags at OR Tambo International Airport.
The group said the reduction is a result of a number of initiatives, including the implementation of a R333m baggage handling system.
"Baggage handling has been an area of concern for Acsa for some time, especially at OR Tambo International, where the volumes are by far the highest, with an average of 25 000 bags handled daily," it said.
"The globally accepted benchmark for mishandled baggage is one bag per 1 000 handled. An average of 25 00 bags is screened daily at OR Tambo International Airport and in 2006, 40 bags a day were reported as having been pilfered, equivalent to 1.6 bags per every thousand handled," Acsa said.
The group said that as a result of a number of initiatives, pilferage was reduced to 0.7 per thousand bags handled by the end of 2007, to 0.5 in 2008 and, "through continued diligence, the ratio has improved to 0.2 during the period under review. Despite these successes the fight against baggage pilferage will continue."
The group noted the installation of the final components of the baggage handling system between April and December 2009, coinciding with the completion of the overall infrastructure programme.
The system comprises conveyors, sorters, carousels and control systems and cost R333m.
Additional initiatives included the employment of managers with local and international experience in baggage security management as well as the appointment of new ground handling companies governed by stringent service level agreements, compelling them to introduce measures to reduce pilferage.
A new permit system controlling staff access to the baggage make-up area was also installed, along with the appointment of a dedicated bagage pilferage unit and a private security company to focus exclusively on baggage security.
"This inclusive approach allowed for an integrated strategy to weed out people with dishonest intentions within the baggage environment, as well as the refinement of policies and procedures," Acsa said.