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ITF secures a seat at the ICAO Ground Handling Task Force (GHTF)

09 Feb 2022

The ITF has secured a seat at the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Ground Handling Task Force (GHTF). This important milestone is another step forward in the ITF’s continuing effort to make sure the views of its civil aviation affiliates are listened to and taken into account at the highest levels within ICAO.

ICAO established the GHTF in 2014, under its Aerodrome Design and Operations Panel (ADOP). Its role is to investigate the safety, efficiency and standardisation issues associated with ground handling and to determine the status and future needs of ICAO provisions concerning ground handling at aerodromes.

The GHTF consists of representatives from national civil aviation authorities, aerodrome operators, aircraft operators, ground handling service providers and other stakeholders. From now on, an ITF representative will also be present at the GHTF.

Ground handling forms a significant and critical part of the aviation industry; however, it is currently not subject to the level of regulation seen in areas such as flight operations, air traffic management and aerodrome operations. The GHFT aims to address this critical issue holistically.  

In October 2021, the ITF presented a Working Paper (WP) at the ICAO High-level Conference on COVID-19 (HLCC 2021), strongly supporting the efforts of the ICAO and the GHTF secretariats to develop a regulatory framework for ground handling. The paper received very positive feedback from the ICAO Secretariat and conference participants.

Shortly after the HLCC2021, the ITF organised a webinar before the Ground Staff Committee meeting with the participation of ICAO, the Airports Council International (ACI), and the Airport Services Association (ASA) to discuss the gap in the regulatory standards for ground handling activities at a global level.

“Securing this seat has been the result of the work developed by the Civil Aviation Section and particularly its ICAO Working Group and other ground handling affiliates that actively took part in our lobby work. From now on, we will directly engage in the development of strategies and coordinated solutions for ground handling,” commented the ITF civil aviation section interim chairperson Edgardo Llano.

“In 2019, the GHTF developed and published the Manual on Ground Handling as guidance material. However, guidance material is not sufficient to ensure the development and implementation of the systems required at national level that have a direct impact in the conditions of the workers involved. Additional mechanisms are required. Therefore, at the GHFT, we will give strong support to the recommendations of the ICAO Secretariat concerning the development of Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and Procedures for Air Navigation Services (PANS) related to ground handling.”