For the most of us, the summer season is the time we are looking forward to. This period means normally having vacation, travelling, spending time with the kids and just recharging the own batteries. But: the summer time is also the high season for airports and airlines. In those weeks, when everybody else is looking for relaxation, especially airport ops people are under high pressure. For example lots of European airports face their maximum capacity during this time. This means a lot of stress for the Terminal Ops, as they are responsible for safe and fluent operations in the terminal. Stress is something individual and there are multiple factors that creates this stress, but there are also ways to handle it. I think it is very important not to neglect things and go over these factors as continuous stress can easily lead into depression or burn-out. Thus an employer should do the best he can to support their people, especially those facing the customer. Every passenger will acknowledge if, even in a stressful situation, he has been treated with respect and patience. So after the summer break, there should start a lessons learned phase, what to improve and how to support operations.
To be honest: It all starts with a good planning. Summer peaks are like Christmas, they are not really surprising. Only some conditions might change, but the peaks will keep the same.
To evaluate those changes you don´t have to be Merlin or looking into a magic glass bowle.
Therefore, the right tools can help you to get things done in an easy and accurate way. The times when planners had to work with multiple systems, spreadsheets and heavy engine simulations that took weeks to get some results are over. Smart planning tools can assist everybody to have a look on changing ressources, capacity constraints or new procedures. Ideally this planning system is connected and able to communicate with operational tools to hand-over scenarios and their results.
Based on the evaluation from the planning department about the upcoming summer, processes have to be set-up to meet the customer requirements and the own service levels during that time. This means: planning with higher amount of staff for check-points, defined steering actions to handle overflows as well as special offers for travelers.
It is very important to have a look at the passenger profile which might be different in that period than others. Probably first-time flyers and families are not that fast at security than business & frequent travelers. This affects throughput rates at security with a negative impact on the maximum capacity. The other side is that those passengers have special needs which an airport should prepare on. Frankfurt airport for e.g. introduced several offers for kids in combination with the federal police of Germany to make travelling smoother and an interesting event for kids. All this together is a big challenge to cover, but not unattainable.
Now when talking about Smart Planning you could think now it´s all fine, Ops people don´t have to be worried at all. The problem during the operational day at airports are the deviations from the plan. Already little delays like e.g. two 747, one too early the other too late and thereby both coming at the same time can cause heavy trouble. When talking with operational people one of the biggest stress factors is uncertainty during their shifts. Being always in a reactive mode, acting as a fire fighter to deal with upcoming issues when they occur is a permanent pressure situation. But it doesn´t have to be like this: Predictive analytics can reduce stress by forecasting passenger flows. These forecasts help Ops people to handle topics long before they are going to happen.
I remember exactly when working myself for Frankfurt airport, people told me that they feel brutally lost with upcoming delays, not knowing about the effects on the landside and the inherited passenger flows. This created stress upfront when ops people saw just by numbers to face a busy day. By integrating predictive technologies and tools these eliminate the feeling of uncertainty and create situational awareness. After having installed such a solution at Frankfurt airport, terminal control said that compared to the past now they are relaxed even when passenger numbers grow to new high-time peaks.
Now Total Airport Management (TAM) is in discussion since years and would mean that everybody in this complex business environment shares data and information. Planners, Operations, Airports & Airlines, Federal Police and Customs, Handlers, …
And yes, things are moving in this direction and collaborative work already begun. There are some good examples of those in the industry. To make this dream come true it´s important to choose the right technology behind which supports this demand and is able to scale up as the specific airport and it´s players need it.
Therefore we created the AMORPH.aero collaborative platform. This platform enables all parties to work on their tasks like planning scenarios or operational actions and share them with each other to update the whole process chain. The aim is always to optimize the ecosystem airport, based on the latest available data.
If you need more information about the collaborative platform, and the inherited solutions please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org We will be glad to hear from you and probably you will be surprised what we can do for you.