Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) has announced that the technical issue that affected the baggage sorting system in the domestic terminal at OR Tambo International Airport has been successfully resolved.
Several domestic passengers’ suitcases were left when some aircraft departed from the airport without all the baggage on board on the morning of December 22.
Several flights were also delayed to allow for baggage to be loaded. Acsa subsequently made arrangements with the respective airlines to enable affected passengers’ bags to reach their owners on time.
On December 22 and 23, OR Tambo International Airport processed 77 569 bags of which 31 118 were domestic and regional, and around 4 500 were short-shipped. This corresponds to a two-day short-shipping rate of 19% for domestic bags and 13% for regional bags.
Terence Delomoney, the group executive operations management at Acsa, said an electro-mechanical sensor broke as a result of an incident, rather than wear and tear or a lack of maintenance, which was what had caused the technical problem affecting the baggage sorter.
“The problem has been resolved, and the entire process continues to be vigorously examined. We are now working hard to ensure that the remaining backlog of short-shipped bags is cleared as soon as possible,” said Delomoney.
“We now have less than 80 bags in the network — from the original approximately 4 500 — that need reunification with their owners, many of whom have indicated that they would fetch them at the destination airports.”
He said ACSA apologised for the significant disruption to the customers over the Christmas period and wanted to assure the public that it had taken all possible steps to work with airlines and other stakeholders to resolve the issue.
“Due to the problem, most domestic airlines decided to delay flights and wait for passengers’ bags to be loaded. This was due to most flights being full and no space being available on later flights to transport short-shipped bags to their owners,” said Delomoney.
“The major concern from airlines flying to regional destinations was that most passengers travelling to Mauritius, Victoria Falls and Mpumalanga were travelling for the holidays, so all bags needed to make it onto their flights.”
The other concern was that flights with a one-day-a-week frequency, such as those on the Sentalina route, would see affected passengers having to wait another week before receiving their baggage. African destinations such as Bulawayo, Harare, Maputo, Lusaka, Lilongwe, Ndola, Windhoek, Pemba, Manzini, Botswana and Antananarivo were of particular concern.