A change in baggage-handling companies led to long delays at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on Friday, with some passengers having to wait up to three hours for their baggage, according to media reports.

Among the flights affected were Swiss Air, Iberia and Air France, the Saturday Star reported.

Equity Aviation Services will no longer provide ramp-handling services at Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) airports after Judge Justice Makhanya on Friday dismissed with costs an application by Equity to continue its services, said Acsa spokesperson Solomon Makgale.

Equity had applied to continue its services either until a review had been completed of the termination of its contract or until a third possible ramp-handling licence was issued.

“Equity will continue to service its clients, with the exception of South African Airways [SAA], until 29 February 2008. Acsa has granted Swissport SA a temporary licence, on a month-to-month basis, to provide ramp-handling services to SAA only,” said Makgale.

He said operations may encounter “challenges” during the take-over of the operation from Equity. “SAA, Swissport and all other relevant stakeholders will work with us to ensure a smooth transition and find appropriate solutions.”

Acsa had deployed extra staff at operation centres and baggage areas, and Makgale said there would be an increase in safety and security officers, especially police, on the air side and in areas where baggage was handled.