ACI EUROPE has recently updated its Position Paper on Airport Capacity that lays out how airports can best achieve improvements in the use of available capacity within the airport system. In addition, to help airports develop an integrated response to the capacity situation, which is facilitated by the establishment of Airport Operations Centres (APOC), ACI EUROPE has launched a new service – the APOC Peer Review programme. Report by Aidan Flanagan.
Capacity is a word that is on the lips of pretty much everyone in the aviation industry these days. With the 2018 EUROCONTROL Challenges of Growth study forecasting a growth in demand of at least 53% by 2040 versus 2017 levels, it is expected that 8% of the total demand in 2040 will go unmet – equating to 160 million passengers. It is further expected that at least 16 European airports will be operating at or near full capacity by 2040, up from six in summer 2016. These figures show that a capacity crunch is already underway and is set to get dramatically worse unless appropriate action is taken.
There are many factors which influence airport capacity, and in order for the full picture to be seen, and the right measures identified to improve capacity, a holistic view is required. This means considering the various drivers of capacity, such as the airspace, runway, apron, stands, terminal and terminal access. Each may be optimised, but in order to have the desired effect the impact of optimising one part of the mix on the ability of other areas to deliver required capacity must always be considered. This is the case for optimising existing capacity, unlocking latent capacity, and ensuring resilience in cases of disruption to operations.
Measures which can be taken include physical infrastructure development, technology deployment for both ATM and surface management, procedures such as RECAT-EU and time-based separation, the slot allocation process, and many others. The exact mix of measures which an airport may take to enhance its capacity depends on its own situation and relations with other stakeholders, particularly the ANSP. The newly-updated ACI EUROPE Capacity Position Paper (available at www.aci-europe.org) explores in further detail how this may be achieved, and argues that a key element to identifying the best cocktail of capacity measures is integrated operations.
Collaboration, coordination and consolidation between the airport stakeholders ensures clear lines of communication, a common view on how capacity is being utilised and where it may be available, and optimises the speed of recovery after contingencies. An integrated view of the real-time and predicted situation at an airport, established through an Airport Operations Centre (APOC), gives clarity over the capacity situation, expected shortfalls during the day, and enables a coordinated response in order to overcome contingencies and re-establish ‘normal’ operations.
APOC Peer Review programme: New service for ACI EUROPE’s members
In order to aid airports in developing such integration, ACI EUROPE is launching a new service to its members, namely an APOC Peer Review programme. This service will allow airports to request that, for a fee, a team of experts visit their APOC and give feedback on how the APOC is working and ideas on how to further develop it. This team would include managers from other airports’ APOCs, who would provide a report reviewing the working of the APOC and sharing best practice on how the APOC can improve in order to ensure optimum capacity management. They will of course also benefit themselves from seeing how other airports have implemented their APOCs, making for a two-way sharing of expertise.
A pilot of the APOC Peer Review was conducted at Geneva Airport in October 2019, where a team from Brussels Airport, Groupe ADP, ACI EUROPE and EUROCONTROL spent three days meeting airport management, other stakeholders and receiving presentations on the experience of setting up and running the APOC. The result was a report which offered Geneva Airport management a view on where the APOC was operating successfully and ideas which could be implemented to take it to the next stage. All those involved found the exercise to be extremely profitable, and ACI EUROPE looks forward to taking this new service to its members, in order to help Europe’s airports develop their operations and capacity management.
Aidan Flanagan is Safety, Capacity, ATM & Single European Sky Manager at ACI EUROPE.