Transformation takes off at Swissport SA
The aviation services company has put people, technology and skills development at the top of its agenda
There’s no denying the aviation industry has been hard hit by Covid-19.
Shuttered shops and restaurants, deserted departure lounges and empty baggage halls have replaced the crowded check-in halls and airport terminals that typically characterise air travel. The result has been cost-cutting measures and retrenchments throughout the sector.
“The past 18 months re-emphasised the need for planning and adaptability to effectively operate in an environment characterised by uncertainty,” says Khangi Khoza, the newly appointed CEO of Swissport SA.
This local aviation services company forms part of Swissport International’s global network, which provides passenger services, ramp and cargo handling, fuelling, executive aviation and lounge hospitality at 269 airports in 47 countries.
“In the face of the unprecedented challenges, Swissport’s rapid and agile response enabled us to adapt and survive the Covid-19 crisis,” says Khoza. “The decisive action taken both globally and locally, coupled with the dedication and hard work of all our staff, allowed us to emerge stronger and more agile in everything we do.”
While Covid-19 is far from over, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that passenger volumes will return to pre-pandemic levels only by 2025, green shoots of recovery are starting to emerge. That’s why Swissport International is shifting its strategic focus from survival to transformation.
“The time has come to refocus and reprioritise to ensure the tough decisions taken over the past 18 months bear fruit,” says Khoza.
The time has come to refocus and reprioritise to ensure the tough decisions taken over the past 18 months bear fruitKhangi Khoza, CEO of Swissport SA
Locally, Swissport SA has concentrated its transformation efforts on its people, skills development and technological innovation.
“Investing in [technology] will empower us to sustainably deliver high-quality services in a cost-efficient manner,” says Khoza.
“We view sector-specific growth in e-commerce as a unique opportunity as no-one is doing it properly yet. And initiatives that digitalise various aspects of our business to augment the human role will drive further efficiencies and create a more capable workforce.”
“Retaining talent and developing skills will also help bring the local sector in line with global standards and unlock opportunities as global travel volumes pick up.”
With this in mind, Swissport SA recently launched its Nalithuba in-house high-potential programme to provide training, upskill and fast-track staff, and — as Khoza says — to help identify a “pool of talent to nurture and develop”.
The company also plans to offer staff members the opportunity to broaden their skill sets by gaining work experience within Swissport International’s global network.
Another way Swissport SA is building a strong talent pipeline is through its commitment to the SA government’s YES (Youth Employment Service) programme.
“Unemployment disproportionately affects the country’s youth. They require skills to secure a better future and creating job readiness and industry-specific skills can also benefit the aviation services sector,” says Khoza.
Coupled with fresh marketing and communication plans, these initiatives aim to inject a new energy into Swissport SA, give it a competitive edge and ensure it remains “ready to play a central role as a reliable partner as the [aviation] industry returns to the skies”.
This article was paid for by Swissport SA.