How to Deliver Airport Operational Certainty Post Pandemic
By James Williamson, CEO
Over the last ten months, airport operational planning has been thrown into a veritable tailspin. The traditional way of basing decisions off stable schedules, historical data and static rule sets are now suddenly ineffective and struggle to reflect the realities of a dynamic and unprecedented aviation environment.
In just a matter of weeks, the rapid spread of COVID-19 saw airport terminals go from bustling hubs to eerily empty spaces. As traffic returned, operators had to grapple with a new and complex set of challenges – volatile flight schedules, new health screenings, increased safety measures and changed passenger behaviours – compounded by strained budgets and reduced staff numbers.
One thing is clear – yesterday’s plans, based on last year’s data won’t work today, nor when air travel resumes anywhere near pre-pandemic levels.
According to a new study by EUROCONTROL, the practical impact of COVID-19 health measures on airport performance, as air traffic recovers, means that they will hit their capacity constraints at a much lower passenger level than seen in 2019. As more people take to the skies, these new measures will impact passenger flow, extend journey times and reduce terminal throughput – highlighting the vital importance of real-time data for accurate planning and operational efficiency.
It’s something that we at Veovo are already seeing materialise. Airports need actionable intelligence to make smart, safe operational decisions based on real, up-to-the-minute data. Here are a few reasons why:
Keeping passengers flowing at safe distances
With so many new variables to contend with, occupancy and flow guestimates are no longer enough. In the post-pandemic era, operators will need more data beyond the traditional reaches of boarding scans or aircraft load data.
The key to keeping people moving through the terminal at safe distances will be to accurately predict passenger movement – when they arrive, where they dwell and how they choose to congregate – and using that knowledge to influence behaviour.
We believe that real-time monitoring, combined with the power of machine learning and AI, will hold the answers to improving capacity planning and the customer experience in the new order, all while operating under tighter conditions.
Making faster resourcing decisions
In today’s new operational circumstances, it is no longer good enough to know what is happening now and predict what will happen next. It’s being able to make better decisions early enough to change operational outcomes, that will allow greater performance from the same constraints. And ultimately drive a faster, most sustainable, recovery.
For years airports have been faced with making decisions – like allocating resources and turnaround planning – using crude or limited historical data and expert-tuned estimates. We’ve learned to tweak things here and there, and come up with hundreds of rules to try and “best fit”. But as the ground now continually shifts, agility has never been so important. Being able to plan on a weekly, daily, and even hourly basis gives operators a far greater ability to predict arrivals, show up profiles, occupancy and turnaround times – and proactively adapt to change.
This is all possible with real data flows, continuous forecasting and “what if” assessment of resourcing decisions, with a live view on the impact of the overall airport performance.
For example, immigration capacity decisions can be adjusted in real time to reflect flight arrival times, actual passenger counts, and real-time processing speeds. Aircraft parking plans can be shaped to meet consolidated terminal operation objectives and changing travel mandates while keeping passengers safely apart and reducing apron congestion.
Improving passenger confidence
Transparent and collaborative information sharing is the only way all parties can align service levels to fluctuating passenger volumes and expectations.
As we emerge from the pandemic, the ability to link data points across landside and airside flows will be vital in improving passenger confidence, while avoiding over-or-under resourcing.
This means considering the full end-to-end journey in every decision. For instance, understanding the impact of one flow on another, such as the effect gate allocations can have on transfer times and pier crowding. Or, rethinking your approach on how to control numbers entering security screening, based on the real-time flight schedule, live processing rates and flow predictions.
This isn’t about just about forecasting, or better A-CDM, or using AI/ML to improve decisions. This is about “completing the circle”, and making all these technologies work in tandem, and in a way that is simple enough to be engaging to users across the airport.
Veovo helps airports globally adapt to new processes and changing travel patterns, unlock efficient ways of working and provide safer journeys. Please get in touch to arrange a call with one of our experts to explore how we can help your business.
“Veovo’s technology gives us complete passenger flow visibility, helping us make informed decisions to deliver a better-quality passenger experience.“
“Veovo has allowed us to gain a good understanding of the security check-point dynamics, and most importantly, our customers benefit directly by getting a better service.”
“We are able to keep our passengers fully informed 24/7 about what to expect at security. Our aim is to make the experience as smooth as possible – Veovo helps us do that.”
“With Veovo, we can proactively manage passenger flow, and respond promptly and efficiently to irregular operations and disruptions.”
“Vital to our Master Plan programme is a deep understanding of airport capacity, bottlenecks and constraints, and Veovo is key to this.”
“Veovo has allowed us, together with our airport partners and stakeholders, to better manage operations, as well as improve the passenger experience by communicating expected wait times to passengers at processing points.”