With air travel seeing a post-pandemic rebound, the mishandled baggage rate worldwide increased by 24% to 4.35 bags per thousand passengers last year, stated a report by IT and telecommunication services provider SITA.

This rise is said to be due to growing passenger volumes and particularly driven by the relaunch of international and long-haul flights.

Most of the recovery last year was fuelled by domestic travel and passenger traffic has been evolving since 2020, according to the SITA Baggage IT Insights 2022.

The mishandling rate on international routes stood at 8.7%, while it was 1.85% for domestic routes.

According to the report, the scope of a bag being mishandled is nearly 4.7 times higher on international routes than domestic routes.

Last year, delayed bags constituted 71% of all mishandled bags, a two-point increase compared with 2020.

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SITA stated: “An increase in long-haul flights with connections in 2021 has pushed up the bags delayed at transfer to 41%, which is four points increase from 2020.”

The number of damaged and pilfered bags fell to 23%, while the number of lost and stolen bags rose to 6%.

In this context, the report revealed that baggage management took a hit from the downsizing of airliners, ground handlers and airports during the pandemic.

It also emphasised the role of digitalisation in addressing this challenge.

Most airports and airlines are now said to be focusing on touchless bag tagging options, which depend on kiosks and travellers’ mobile devices.

According to the report, 90% of airlines and three-quarters of airports intend to launch touchless unassisted self-bag drops by 2024.

SITA CEO David Lavorel said: “The industry now needs to do more with less. As we emerge from the pandemic, our customers’ focus remains on safely managing the end-to-end transport of passengers’ baggage, but now they must also reduce the total cost and training required.

“There is significant pressure to increase operational efficiency, which is accelerating digitalisation.”