Johannesburg - The number of lost airline passenger bags dropped by nearly 24% between 2008 and 2009, an international report revealed on Thursday.
"(This) resulted in savings of $460m for the world's airlines in a year when their overall losses due to the slowdown in air travel reached $9.4bn," stated the 2010 Baggage Report released by IT aviation specialists SITA in Brussels.
It was the second consecutive year that the number of "mishandled bags" had dropped world-wide.
"Last year there were 2.2bn enplaned passengers and 25 025m bags mishandled globally, which is down 23.8% (or 7.8m bags) from 2008, and more than 40% (or 17.4m bags) down on the 2007 numbers," the report found.
Some of the decline could be attributed to fewer passengers travelling last year, SITA regional vice president for Africa Khodr Akil said in a statement on the 2010 Baggage Report.
"But the 2.9% decline in passenger numbers is still far smaller than the 23.8% decline in mishandled baggage," he said.
Less than four percent
"Improvements in baggage handling systems and passengers checking in fewer bags to avoid extra fees have also contributed to the overall decline."
In 52% of lost baggage cases, the bags went missing during aircraft transfers, while 16% were never loaded onto the plane.
In other cases, tagging errors or ticketing errors occurred.
Most lost bags were returned to their owners within 48 hours.
"Just 3.4% of all 25 025m mishandled bags go either unclaimed or, in rare instances, are actually stolen," the report found.