Are ground crews (baggage, tug operators, fuel, aircraft parking guides, etc.) hired by the airline or by the airport authority? I’ve always been curious.

What are the norms worldwide vs US? Small town Regional vs International Hub?

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    $\begingroup$ A useful extension on this question may be to look at world wide norms, and possibly differences in small regional airports vs where a carrier has their hub. [I've seen a mix of jackets at times in various airports across Canada, but can't speak with any authority as to what's normal.] $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2019 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ @TheLuckless I went ahead and edited my question to add that. Thx for the suggestion! :) $\endgroup$
    – Jon
    Sep 30, 2019 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ I’m sitting here in MCO waiting on my flight and noticed almost all ground crew at the gates have neon vests on with airline logos, but does that necessarily imply they are airline personnel? Or simply airport personnel assigned to service that airline’s gates? $\endgroup$
    – Jon
    Sep 30, 2019 at 16:59

1 Answer 1


Ground crew are typically employed by a handling agency, which is a company dedicated to performing ground handling of aircraft (exactly the things you describe).

Some airports have several different handling agencies. Have you ever noticed, when waiting for your luggage to arrive at an airport, that there are several different help desks to choose from, depending on your airline? Those are the different handling agencies at that airport.

At a given airport, a certain airline will typically have a contract with just one handling agency. Sometimes, airlines have their own handling agencies. The exact structure can vary.

Smaller airports often do not have third party handling agencies, but instead offer handling services directly to the airlines. In such cases, the ground crew is employed directly by the airport, and could also have other tasks, for example as airport fire fighters.


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