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Auckland Airport’s bold collaborative door-to-departure challenge 

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Auckland International Airport (AKL) is not only New Zealand’s largest and busiest, but also one of the fastest-growing airports in Australasia. With a need to ensure optimal resource coordination and infrastructure use, the airport engaged with Veovo to roll out the region’s first Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) initiative. 

When a secondary, but no less critical, challenge reared its head, AKL and Veovo extended their partnership to create a solution that would get travellers from door to departure with less stress, and more time to spare.

Auckland International Airport welcomed over 21 million passengers during 2019 – a higher-than-expected number. Forecasts predict the airport’s throughput will double, if not more, within the next 20 years. This creates the challenge of how to expand operational capacity while simultaneously finding ways to ensure shorter queues and a smooth passage through all areas and processes.

Increasing the productivity of its assets, processes and operations was identified as key to improving performance and making journeys better for its passengers, visitors and partners.

However, some real-time communication gaps were impacting efficiency, making it difficult to accurately predict both a flight’s on block time and readiness to depart. AKL needed a way of sharing operational data in real-time to optimise decision making and resources across the entire airport ecosystem and improve on-time departures.

Smarter operational decision making

Auckland Airport, together with its Air Traffic Control (ATC), airlines, ground handlers, government border agencies and other airport partners, decided to embrace Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM). This would involve building stronger structures of operational collaboration and developing a platform for the access and distribution of up-to-date, flight-related information.

Veovo’s solution, which integrates Resource and Revenue Management, Customer Engagement and A-CDM capabilities, was chosen and deployed.

With built-in interoperability and seamless data exchange, the solution delivered on every requirement, including embedded intelligence for better flight predictability, mobile-enabled software and an intuitive, easy-to-learn interface.

From flight to flow

While the airport was engaging in improving the turnaround process, it also became aware of another problem that was impacting the ability to get passengers to the gate on time.

Rapid expansion was not only causing the terminal to groan under the weight of increased volumes. Increased traffic on the roads approaching the airport was causing additional delays and congestion issues for travellers that AKL, seemingly, had no control over.

To manage both passenger and traffic flow, Auckland Airport realised they needed a bird’s-eye view of the entire system, as well as a detailed, up-close analysis of ongoing issues. As they were already working with Veovo to improve aircraft throughout, AKL requested a solution to resolve the customer flow challenges. These involved smoothing the journey for a safe, timely, and stress-free arrival at the gate.

On the road

Veovo, together with infrastructure partners Beca, rolled out a solution to measure traffic flow between the CBD and the airport, as well as road usage within the terminal complex.

Rather than relying on CCTV cameras, they found that data-driven insight gathered from sensors would enable more effective real-time traffic management. By detecting drive time anomalies, the airport was able to assess when and how much to intervene, then measure the intervention’s effectiveness.

Key to project success was also the focus on customer-centric outcomes. The airport team set an overall maximum target journey time of 30 minutes from joining the back of an airport-bound queue to arriving at the terminal.

In the airport

Inside the terminal, Veovo’s Passenger Predictability solution was also installed to measure queue times and volumes, and movement patterns. This data is displayed in real-time and analysed to provide predictive arrivals curves. This, in turn, enables improved resource planning and management to cope with expected busy periods, as well as live congestion-handling. Wait-time data is also displayed on screens at security checkpoints, helping manage queue time expectations and reducing stress.

Immediate insights, long-term benefits

As a result of the A-CDM project, arriving flights now spend less time waiting on the tarmac, resulting in fuel savings for airlines and a reduced carbon footprint. For international flights, there is less congestion on the arrivals apron, an increase in the number of flights receiving pushback approval within 60 seconds of request, and an uptick in departure performance.

Sharing on-the-go operation information across all CDM partners has created efficiencies throughout our business. This has led to more effective and smart decision making,says Mark Wilson, Operations Performance Delivery Manager at Auckland International Airport

The traffic flow insights are now helping the New Zealand Traffic Agency (NZTA) to make informed decisions to improve the journey, including optimising signal timing. With this end-to-end insight, they reduced travel time to the airport by 8 minutes. Data analysis is also helping with planning decisions for road network maintenance and infrastructure projects.

The intelligence that the solution is delivering has already proved its value, by providing automated alerts on delays, real-time counts on traffic flows and delays, and intelligence on the origin and destination of vehicle movements,says Richard Young, Senior Associate at Beca at the time.

The customer journey experience is also improving. In 2019, AKL achieved a 4.36 (out of 5) Airport Service Quality rating – the highest in 12 years. They also recently created an app with all the home-to-gate information in one easy-to-access view, including traffic alerts, check-in, screening and processing times. With the app, passengers get personalised recommendations on when to leave home, head to security or move to the gate, all powered by Veovo data. Airport and airline employees can also plan their journey to work more effectively.

Auckland Airport is the first globally to tackle the ambitious, innovative, collaborative challenge of holistic, end-to-end predictability insight. Numerous other international airports are following suit, including Amsterdam Schiphol, CVG, Birmingham and Keflavik, having recognised the value of comprehensive, seamless passenger flow data.

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