Inaccurate arrival and departure flight times make for unhappy passengers, and they also impact overall airport operations. Often, this can result in wasting time and money and generating additional CO2 emissions. And this is all happening at a time when airports and airlines are looking to reduce waste across the board.
A recent Webinar sponsored by Collins Aerospace identified four major challenges that are facing airports today, and many of them have significant impacts on the airlines, flight crews, and as well as passengers.
Let’s look at each of these four new challenges individually:
Now hiring: everyone
During the pandemic, people traveled less due to shutdowns and general fears of infection. As a result, many airports were forced to lay off staff as a cost-cutting measure since the demand simply wasn’t there. For example, according to Fortune, Sydney Airport had to lay off almost half its 33,000-strong workforce during that period. Unfortunately, businesses in general (as well as airlines and airports) are struggling to fill vacancies. As a result, many airports remain understaffed, adding to travel-related headaches.
This staffing problem – and the operational challenges it creates – is impacting the passenger experience, creating long wait times in terminals, delayed flights, and even longer wait times on the tarmac
This staffing problem – and the operational challenges it creates – is impacting the passenger experience, creating long wait times in terminals, delayed flights, and even longer wait times on the tarmac.
To overcome these challenges, airports are looking at streamlining their operations to more effectively utilize staff and resources. But accomplishing this can be easier said than done as aircrews on the ground need to have a source of information that is accurate and reliable to enable them to better anticipate aircraft arrival times and decrease maintenance-related turnaround times.
This can be made possible by having robust and precise data readily available throughout the airport ecosystem to help airports make more informed decisions.
More passengers, more problems.
Few pundits and analysts predicted that demand for flying would skyrocket after the pandemic- restrictions were lifted. Now, many airports are overwhelmed. With many people catching the “travel bug” and wanting to compensate for lost travel time, understaffed airports that were operating on skeleton crews due to a lack of passengers are now facing unprecedented demand – but without the necessary staff.
This issue further contributes to long check-in lines at the airport and compounds frustration for passengers as well as staff.
…it’s no longer adequate to arrive just two hours before a flight at a large airport such as Washington Dulles or JFK International since just getting a bag checked could take 45 minutes.
As the previously mentioned Fortune article notes, it’s no longer adequate to arrive just two hours before a flight at a large airport such as Washington Dulles or JFK International since just getting a bag checked could take 45 minutes.
Airports that are already short-staffed need to identify ways to operate more efficiently and better leverage their reduced resources to make the passenger experience better.
Inflation is making airport operations more expensive.
Everyone has seen the issue of inflation all over the news; this is not just for the United States but worldwide. Airports and airlines alike need to identify ways to decrease expenditures and increase the life of products and parts at a time when the cost of everything is skyrocketing.
In a recent article with Connected Aviation Today, Jennifer Schopfer, the president of Connected Aviation Solutions at Collins Aerospace, said, “As you can imagine, optimizing maintenance and elongating the life of parts like brakes becomes even more important to our customers amidst staffing challenges and the rising costs that are facing everyone in the industry.”
But inflation impacts airports’ and airlines’ expenses, not just parts. Airports must get innovative with how to cut costs and how to get the most out of their existing systems and equipment.
It’s not easy being green.
Reducing CO2 emissions is a topic that touches every industry, including airports and airlines. The commercial aviation industry has long been seen as a contributor of greenhouse gases to the ongoing climate crisis. The industry, as a whole, is working to reduce its carbon footprint and make flying a more environmentally-friendly way to travel.
But it’s not just up to the aircraft manufacturers and airlines to get green. There are ways that airports, directly and indirectly, contribute to the industry’s footprint. Even the amount of time passengers spend on a plane on the tarmac can increase the environmental footprint of a flight.
But it’s not just up to the aircraft manufacturers and airlines to get green. There are ways that airports, directly and indirectly, contribute to the industry’s footprint.
By having accurate flight data available, airports can eliminate these inefficiencies, so planes aren’t sitting on the tarmac or, even worse, waiting in a long line to take off, all while continuing to burn fuel. But jet fuel is not the only fuel being burned at airports. There are also baggage handlers, catering trucks, and other vendors that need to drive long distances around the airport. If airports had more accurate take-off and landing times and more transparency into the physical location of all aircraft, they could plan better and operate more efficiently as a whole.
According to Augusto Santos of Collins Aerospace, “Baggage handlers, catering companies, and other stakeholders can have real-time information of where aircraft are or will be parked and reduce the time they spend searching for planes. There can also be a better, more efficient placement of planes so that connecting flights and aircraft needing the same services can be grouped. This eliminates travel time and reduces emissions.”
Consequently, the aircraft being put into service today can deliver a lot of data that could be used to cut costs, increase sustainability, improve efficiency, and improve the passenger experience for every stakeholder in the aviation ecosystem. However, for this to be possible, data needs to be routed to the correct people and translated so that the airport ecosystem can utilize it.
Accurate data can help increase efficiency, improve operations, lengthen the lifecycle of products and parts, and reduce CO2 emissions. But how can airports gather the pertinent data and ensure the right people use it to help mitigate these challenges?
Using data to solve these four modern problems
Today’s advanced, modern Resource Management Systems (RMS), such as Collins ARINC AirPlan, can help airports aggregate the data they need and use it to increase efficiency and make more educated decisions that can help overcome these return-to-travel challenges.
Today’s advanced, modern Resource Management Systems (RMS)…can help airports aggregate the data they need and use it to increase efficiency and make more educated decisions that can help overcome these return-to-travel challenges.
RMS solutions have long been responsible for the effective management of airline ticket counters, gates, back offices, and kiosks. But today’s RMS solutions can bring more capabilities and accurate data to the table than ever before.
In the recent webinar, industry experts explained how Collins and FlightAware solutions are working together to deliver more precise estimated time of arrival (ETA) information to airports. Collins ARINC AirPlan leverages FlightAware’s Foresight technology to give airports a much more accurate, real-time understanding of flight arrivals and departures and generally increases transparency into what’s happening across the aviation ecosystem.
This enables airports to make more informed decisions. It can also:
- Allow them to direct staff and resources to the most optimal locations to ensure that passenger needs are met and that limited resources are used as effectively as possible.
- Enable them to implement proactive and preventative maintenance programs that can increase the life of airport systems and save money.
- Enable them to create more efficient paths for aircraft pulling away from the gate and service vehicles responsible for refueling and delivering catering services to aircraft – effectively streamlining airport operations while reducing CO2 emissions.
In addition, RMS solutions such as Collins ARINC AirPlan can help optimize aircraft turnaround times to ease congestion while reducing crowding in terminal areas. Using machine learning-based predictions in FlightAware’s Foresight, airports can anticipate potential delays or early arrivals that could impact resource planning by indicating possible conflicts and alternatives. Foresight delivers estimates of times of arrival that are 30 to 50 percent more accurate than any of those available from other providers.
The more airports know ahead of time, the more time they have to plan ahead and mitigate issues for passengers.
The aviation industry has faced a new set of previously unheard-of challenges in the immediate wake of the COVID pandemic. To overcome them, they need to leverage accurate, real-time data to better utilize their limited resources and meet increased demand. By embracing the new generation of RMS solutions, airports can deliver this data to airports, enabling them to make more effective, data-driven decisions and overcome the challenges of the post-COVID world.