Airport mulls replacing baggage handlers with conveyor belts
The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, may replace baggage handlers with conveyor belts following recent luggage theft allegedly committed by employees of Indonesia's largest airline group.
Police earlier detained two baggage handlers, identified as S and M, and two security officers, A and H, after closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras apparently caught S while opening a passenger's luggage.
According to Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Mohammad Iqbal, S admitted opening the luggage and stealing a Blackberry smartphone while handling baggage from a flight of Batik Air ' a full-service carrier belonging to Lion Air Group.
'Based on the suspects' testimony, they committed the crime many times. S said he had broken open luggage 13 times within one year,' Iqbal said on Monday.
Iqbal went on to say that police were currently investigating whether the suspects were part of a syndicate specializing in luggage theft.
Unlike other airlines, Lion Air does not subcontract companies to manage its ground handling services.
Lion Air president director Edward Sirait told The Jakarta Post on Monday that the company had been managing its own ground services at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport since 2004 for cost-efficiency reasons.
He went on to say that Lion Air also took care of its ground services at other international airports: Juanda Airport in Surabaya, East Java, Sultan Hasanuddin Airport in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Sam Ratulangi Airport in Manado, North Sulawesi, and Kualanamu Airport in Medan, North Sumatra.
Responding to the issue, Agus Haryadi, a secretary of airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II, admitted that the manual baggage handling system the airport currently used could be one of the triggers of such theft.
He explained that the system gave baggage handlers a chance to commit such a crime.
He further said that airport management, therefore, planned to use a system requiring only conveyor belts to transport passenger luggage.
He added that currently only two airports in the country used conveyor belts: Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman Airport in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, and Kualanamu Airport.
Agus went on to say that Soekarno-Hatta International Airport already had sufficient security personnel to monitor the baggage-handling area.
'However, we understand that we have to evaluate whether those officers were working properly as instructed by us,' Agus said.
Agus also said that the authorities would add 325 CCTV units in the airport, particularly in baggage-handling areas, to prevent similar crimes from happening in the future. The airport currently has 1,100 CCTV units.
Separately, Sudaryatmo from the Indonesian Consumer Foundation (YLKI) suggested that aside from adding more CCTV units, the airport management should observe baggage-handling spots more carefully by imposing daily security checks on employees working there.
He also advised that the management should be firm with airlines found to have violated regulations.
He then called on airline passengers to check their belongings as soon as they reclaimed their luggage from the airline and immediately file a complaint if they find their luggage broken or something missing.
'Passengers should complain to the airline office in the airport, not later,' Sudaryatmo said.
Meanwhile, YLKI's chairman Tulus Abadi urged Lion Air to swiftly improve its management, particularly in ground handling services. He said that according to consumer complaints received by YLKI, Lion Air has become the worst airline in the country due to delayed flights, a complicated ticketing system, and the baggage handling system.
Tulus went on to say that Lion Air should have been able to improve ground handling services more easily than other airlines as it handled ground services itself.
Regarding the theft case, Lion Air Group public relation manager Andy M. Saladin said his company was currently conducting an internal investigation with the police.
He added that Lion Air Group was committed to responding to any reports on missing or broken belongings. (agn)
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