ULD & PERISHABLES SUPPLEMENT~ ULD management outsourcing gains ground

Despite having a somewhat slow start, outsourcing the management of Unit Load Devices (ULDs) seems to be gaining momentum now as airlines, reeling under the immense pressure of rocketing fuel prices, see it as a cost cutting area.

In the past, airlines were reluctant to outsource this function partly because they considered ULD management to be mission-critical to their operation and hesitated to allow others to handle it.

According to Ludwig Bertsch, chairman of the board of directors of Unitpool AG, a company that supplies and manages a global fleet of ULDs, airlines did not outsource ULD management partly because the actual cost of managing the ULD inventory was not transparent within most airlines and hence it was not necessarily perceived as a ‘big ticket’ savings item that could have a signifi cant immediate impact on the bottom line.

“This is also because ULD management is often spread across various functions and cost centres, so many costs are often forgotten or not considered,” he adds. Peter Ahnert, director business development at Jettainer, another ULD management company, says that ULD outsourcing is becoming established as a true alternative to the traditional in-house model. He estimates that there are close to 90,000 ULDs which are already being managedby ULD outsourcing specialists.

While costs are a very important issue, qualitative and strategic advantages of outsourcing must be considered too when deciding about the future of airlines’ ULD management, he says.