Constant air traffic growth in recent years has led to airport congestion. Naturally, one of the solutions for increasing the capacity of the airports is their expansion. However, the inefficiencies in passenger handling services are also contributing to the problem. Datasets from Airbus A380 ground handling at Emirates indicate that up to 8% of all flight delays are caused by problems in passenger/baggage related procedures. Thus, as the rates of commercial aviation market development are not likely to decrease, it seems that the ground handlers are the ones that should contribute to the common cause.
The latest Boeing analysis of the global aviation market notifies that in the next 20 years certain airports around the world will reach and surpass their capacity due to the increasing congestion. As the airline traffic measured in RPK has grown at a yearly rate of 5% during the last few years, even such airports as Heathrow in London or Dubai International are reaching their limits for hourly airplane movements. Considering such trends, the importance of investments in aviation infrastructure cannot be overstated. After all, the continuous growth of the industry is in the best interest of every player in the market. That is why airports must share the challenges of the aviation growth with the carriers and MRO providers.
“It’s understandable that as the demand for air travel grows carriers are trying to expand their operations as much as possible. Thus, one of the trends we’ve been witnessing in the commercial aviation market for a few years now is the rapid growth and demand for low cost flights. For example, the number of seats offered by low cost carriers in Europe has been steadily increasing by an average of 13% per year. However, due to the congestion of airports, carriers could reach their upper limit in flight frequencies sooner than they could expect,” explains the CEO of Baltic Ground Services Saulius Batavicius. “As a result, airports and ground handling providers are required to come up with new solutions which would enable them to manage the increasing passenger flows more effectively. Naturally, many of the providers are turning to the particular IT-solutions, as they have proved to be able to optimize performance of other segments of aviation industry.”
Investments into new or improved runways, terminal expansions, and entirely new airports are particularly important in the emerging regions, where aviation growth currently outpaces planned infrastructure development. At the same time, it must be remembered that the services provided at airport directly influence its capabilities as well. For example, inefficient ground handling services have been found to be one of the key reasons for flight delays. This mainly concerns the maximum waiting time for passengers check-in and baggage claim.
“Despite the fact that congestion is unlikely to be the major limiting factor to commercial air traffic growth during the upcoming few years, airports as well as governmental air services will still need to develop strategic responses to this issue. As the face of the industry changes, the commonly used passenger handling solutions are rapidly losing their relevance. For example, the gigantic CUTE systems, which were definitely helpful just a few years ago, have simply become unsuitable for the scope of work that airports are expected to handle at the moment,” shares the CEO of Baltic Ground Services. “So the real challenge now is to try and re-think the IT-solutions for passenger and baggage handling entirely. Accordingly, standards for the training of ground handling staff, assistance to passengers, safety management systems and other accompanying aspects will be in need of reviewing as well.”