How can you find capacity in constrained and saturated airports?

Adrian Todd, our CEO, explores how the team at AiQ Consulting uses technology, simulations and thinking holistically to create smart airports and realise capacity worldwide.

Airports become constrained in one or two or all three areas – runway, stands and terminal – because the nature of the industry is to expand to use every available space. Even if you solve your capacity problems today, in a few years you will find yourself in a similar position. So how can you find, and keep finding, capacity in your airport?

How does AiQ Consulting create capacity in constrained and saturated airports?

As our previous blog explained, it’s easier to use the existing footprint of the airport than to consider expanding airports. Capacity is going to be created by doing and changing small things. You need to get smarter, and AiQ’s airport consultancy works with airports to provide these answers. We can help you understand all of the marginal differences you can make that release small amounts of capacity in parts of the system that add up to a major difference in the whole airport.

When you are talking about realising small amounts of capacity and moving problems around, you need to be able to understand and analyse the airport at a detailed level.

For example, every airline has different passenger profiles and even these slight differences in passenger profiles have a massive impact on the airport. You have to consider where these passengers eat, how long they stay, how they present, how many bags they carry, what transport they use etc. All of these vary by airline, destination and airport and it’s about that marginal difference and understanding how they operate. Minor adjustments to passenger flow reflecting their behaviour makes a big difference to capacity.

AiQ use historical Big Data profiling with Monte Carlo assessments of future Schedules & Occupancies to find and explore these trends. We also know about the impact of new automated technology and processes on these passenger behaviours. It’s important to understand and develop the airport around the different airline operating models. We specialise in realising this capacity by thinking the process through and being smarter.

Looking at Demand Forecasting and Peaks

Capacity Planning also relies on looking at airport demand and managing peaks so airports work better and smarter at these specific times. As we understand and analyse airports at a detailed level, we also know about defining limits and the impact of new automated technology, processes, smart thinking and management has on these demands.

For example, we recently worked with Schiphol Airport on their Declaration of Capacity. As an IATA Level 3 airport, limits have to be declared on the runway, stands and terminal that define peak activity each day. If the limit for stands at a certain time slot is 60 wide-body aircraft, we can efficiently manage this by coordinating airlines, timing and balancing service levels to ensure that every area of capacity is used fully within that peak time.

One solution to constrained and saturated airports is to use modern automated technology to improve flaws in every area of activity. From landing, taxiing, stand, to passenger flow, and processes, using automated technology such as self-service check-in, Early Bag Stores and more can reduce bottlenecks, balance demands and use equipment and stands more resourcefully.

Why is simulation essential to creating capacity in constrained airports?

With our experienced and dedicated simulation team and software, we can replicate whatever happened at an airport over a particular day and use it to create a calibration simulation. Ryanair, for example, will have different types of passengers than British Airways, but the passenger profile will also differ between Ryanair passengers in Edinburgh and those in Stanstead. By calibrating our simulation to pick up on all of these differences we can create profiles that reflect passenger behaviour accurately. Using these assumptions we can then run future scenarios, changes to infrastructure, adjustments to the process, the introduction of new automated technology, and so on, through the simulation to see how these changes, however minor, will affect the airport holistically and in terms of capacity planning.

Visual simulations also engage stakeholders. It tells them that we’ve got the process right and the physical space planned correctly. Numbers don’t necessarily create the trust that can be provided by demonstrating our gaming level 3D discrete Terminal simulations and incorporating Virtual Reality. For example, we used this within London Heathrow T3 & T4, Manchester and Bristol to engage Stakeholders for rapid acceptance of automation proposals. Queues building in the simulation helps to streamline decision-making, avoiding equipment being laid out in the wrong place. It creates trust and enhances stakeholder management.

AiQ Consulting has been delivering intelligent airport consultancy including capacity planning solutions for many years. As the iQ in Airports, our reputation for creating and delivering cost-effective, efficient capacity planning is worldwide. We have worked with some of the world’s most constrained airports. Take a look at our case studies for further information or contact us today to arrange a meeting.