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How kerb-to-flight passenger flow management is transforming Birmingham Airport

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Birmingham Airport (BHX) has long been recognised as one of the UK’s most punctual and family-friendly travel hubs. The four-time winner of the prestigious Star UK Airport prize loves keeping its customers happy. However, the airport realised it needed a new way to keep things running smoothly.

More passengers. More challenges

With passenger numbers rising, BHX wanted to gain better insights into how customers move and use facilities from arrival to departure. While BHX manually measured passengers via its security processes, it only reflected 10% of travellers – meaning it relied too much on assumptions.

The airport needed a platform that could accurately capture the flow of passengers across the airport, no matter the physical layout, and make sense of that data to optimise resources better, increase revenue opportunities and smooth the passenger experience.

The all-knowing airport

The results were indisputable after the implementation of Veovo’s Flow Management solution. A near-trebling of data capturing capabilities and the ability to keep passengers informed and relaxed by displaying accurate wait times in its processes.

With the expansion to airport-wide flow management, BHX now receives detailed insights around customer occupancy, dwell time and movement patterns in individual areas and holistically. With a seamless understanding of the interconnections between customers, flights and processes, BHX has real-time situational awareness across the entire airport ecosystem.

10% year-on-year reduction in security queue length

almost 3x  more data capturing capabilities

Seeing the bigger picture of operations

BHX’s operational teams use the solution to view real-time data, allowing them to be able to reduce security queue length by 10% year-on-year. In response, BHX has adjusted its KPIs to ensure they are on a journey of continuous improvement.

The ability to create flight schedule-based forecasting has also improved by the tight integration between Veovo’s passenger flow and operation software, used by the airport to manage resource planning and improve day-of-operation decision-making. By combining people movement and AODB data, BHX can now analyse flow patterns alongside flight schedule information, such as trends by airline, time of day and destination and the effects on show-up profiles and dwell times at processes.

These insights enable the airport to proactively adjust resources to adapt to any operational plan changes, meet service level agreements, and improve guest communication.

Using AI to improve flow, health and safety 

AI and predictions play a crucial role in Birmingham Airport’s decision-making about its future expansions, ensuring it matches future capacity with demand, as well as complying with health and safety regulations. BHX uses live situational data to raise the alarm when occupancy is approaching its limits and historical data analysis to understand passenger levels’ impact in the main dwell areas at different times of the day.

For example, if the departure lounge is approaching capacity, the airport can use tactics such as “call to gate” to redirect travellers – using the Veovo Guest Engagement (FIDS) – to go to the gate area, reducing the lounge headcount. It can also measure the number of people using escalators and lifts, allowing it to make proactive preventive maintenance plans.

Planning the future 

Today, Birmingham Airport is exploring new use cases, such as detecting the location and movement of assets like trollies, employees and vehicles and determining the necessary improvements. The airport is also considering leveraging Veovo’s new advancements in 3D sensors to improve measurement precision at key choke points.

In the long term, BHX sees Veovo as key to providing a deeper understanding of capacity and constraints on a larger scale as it looks to invest in its facilities to handle an expected 40% growth in passengers.

Video – Take a look inside Birmingham Airport

Giles Baldwin, from BHX’s terminal operations team, explains how moving from single-process queue measurement to airport-wide flow management is helping improve staff resourcing, bottleneck prevention and expansion planning.

Giles Baldwin

Terminal Operations Project Coordinator, BHX

“We’re now not only able to view what’s happening as it happens 24/7, but we can also compare current operations against expectations. It allows us to optimise the entire customer journey, rather than sub-optimising isolated areas.”
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