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A seven-month trial with electric GSE started when a number of manufacturers provided the carrier with nine vehicles and charging stations at Buff alo and JFK - two of the coldest airports the carrier operates from with the highest levels of snow fall. She says this proved they were eff ective even in very cold conditions. But another issue for airports and carriers using electric GSE is providing the right recharging infrastructure to make sure the equipment is being used in an eff ective way. Andrew Chen from Heathrow says that this needs to be a mix between “opportunity and rapid focused-based” facilities. Heathrow has a total of 8,000 vehicles operating

airside and 12 per cent are electric – most of them baggage tugs and the rest small cars and vans. “For GSE kit that is going to be parked at the ramp you need dedicated recharging points,” he says.


for the other vehicles there are charging points that have popped up organically just to meet the need. But that is not a healthy solution to the problem. “Our investment plan is looking at establishing

three or four rapid charging sites that are concentrated and then as many sites as possible for opportunistic overnight charging. Because we have a curfew and noise reduction regulations there is a down period where not as many ground handlers are working so there are a lot of vehicles that can plug in overnight.” The problem for larger airports that have multiple ground handlers employed as third parties is getting all the actors together to convert the GSE fl eets and getting the charging infrastructure right. Heathrow says a way around this is to fi nd “champions” among carriers and GSE companies in order to spread best practice. But the economics of electric versus traditional

vehicles are not always straightforward. Andrew Chen says: “We have very low diesel costs and proportionately higher electricity costs. Tax free diesel for all those airside vehicles makes it diffi cult to stack up to electricity driven vehicles.” Nov/Dec 2016 / AF / 33

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