$2.1 billion -- the figure that care, attention and innovation saved airlines last year.
The ninth annual SITA Baggage Report, released yesterday [registration required] says that airlines across the globe are getting better at handling luggage -- and saving a fortune in the process.
Improved baggage handling cuts costs, makes for happier customers and a better reputation, as well as diverts the need to issue compensation. SITA says that since 2007, airlines have managed to make savings of 44.5 percent by improving the process.
In 2012, the number of mishandled bags per thousand passengers decreased 1.78 percent to 8.83. Delayed baggage reports fell to 2.4 percent per thousand fliers, with an average of 5.67 bags lost or delayed per 1,000 handled. Current estimates place the potential cost per customer to $0.88, a decrease of 1.61 percent from 2011 and a value which equates to $2.1 billion in savings.
One particular sore spot for airlines is the higher rate of delayed or lost baggage between transfer flights, which is the leading cause of delays. SITA says that airlines have managed to improve in this area, mishandled transfer baggage falling to 48 percent of overall delayed baggage from 53 percent in 2011.
12.5 million transfer bags were mishandled in 2012, a reduction of 1.17 million on the number of transfer bags delayed or lost in 2011 (13.67 million bags).
Globally, Asia stands out as the best performer, with only 1.74 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers -- a reduction of 43 percent in delayed or lost baggage. North America and Europe have improved 56 percent and 43 percent in the last six years respectively. European airlines fared the worst in the study, especially in comparison to Asia's 1.74 figure, with 9.4 bags mishandled for every 1,000 passengers.
Image credit: Flickr