Building airport capacity for summer 2022 and beyond

Busy airport with passengers

It’s been brilliant to see people travelling again but the challenges in restarting an industry that has been largely dormant for two years are clear. Airports Council International reported in March 2022 that air traffic volumes in Europe have recovered to 66% of pre-COVID pandemic levels.

Yet Easter and the Jubilee Holiday in the UK have seen unacceptable Levels of Service for passengers in many airports in the UK and Europe, encompassing all parts of the aviation community, from ground handlers to airlines, primarily due to the shortage of staff.

The problems experienced and well publicised must be avoided if demand is not to be killed off, so what actions can the aviation industry take before Summer 2022? The Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority have written in June 2022 to all carriers:

We think it’s important that each airline reviews afresh its plans for the remainder of the summer season until the end of September to develop a schedule that is deliverable.

“Your schedules must be based on the resources you and your contractors expect to have available, and should be resilient for the unplanned and inevitable operational challenges that you will face.’’

All airports need to revisit their flight schedules with their airlines and all stakeholders. Clearly as a consultancy dealing with Demand Forecasting and Capacity Planning, we would argue that this can only be achieved by understanding the changing demand profiles and assumptions. We believe surveying is absolutely essential to validate your data assumptions.

You should have an appropriate and simple level of data analytics to model the Summer Plan and its’ peaks. The outputs should be presented as cleanly as possible using simple visual graphs to engage with stakeholders and to help agree the plans for resourcing the day to day and the peaks. The agreed summer plan can then be used as the base line to plan for the inevitable mitigations.

The process above is second nature to AiQ working pre-pandemic with constrained and saturated airports such as London Heathrow and Schiphol, Bangkok, Bristol and Budapest. Working at utilisations nearing 100% and squeezing every last operational efficiency out of the system is crucial. Often, only very small tweaks are needed to improve the overall throughput.

The Easter and Jubilee holiday period in the UK effectively introduced that working environment to a number of airports not previously used to working to that limit. Therefore, we would argue that a new approach needs to be taken based on established and proven analytics and modelling to ensure that queues and chaos are not a permanent feature of airport travel this summer.

At AiQ, our award winning team of operational and analytical experts are dedicated to analysing, modelling and optimising every aspect of an airport. Specialising in airport capacity, we are trusted to realise capacity and solve complex operational challenges. Read some of our testimonials.

For more information about how we can assist your airport capacity challenges in 2022, contact us today.