Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Free Wi-Fi At The Airport?

There is no such thing as free airport wi-fi. It is just a question of who pays to cover the cost of providing the service. You may have come across this site where they list airports that provide free Wi-Fi. Advertising and sponsorship may be a way on how airports can afford to provide it for free.

At an airport I visited recently, however, they changed back from free wi-fi to chargeable; even though they pay a substantial penalty to government for not providing the service for free. Obviously the revenue offsets the penalty by factors. In fact, at this airport, despite the passenger, everybody wins from this approach, including government.

As a passenger, I would expect this service to be free of charge. Yet, how to argue against additional revenue? What could be arguments for free wi-fi?
ASQ Rating

ASQ Survey results show that  airports that charge for the use of wi-fi achieve lower satisfaction levels than airports which provide the service free of charge. This most likely reflects the fact that passengers are used to free wi-fi in other public spaces and do not appreciate the need to pay while at the airport.

Passenger Tracking

Using the existing wi-fi receivers at the airport, passenger locations can be determined. This allows to see where passengers congregate, how much time they spend in stores and restaurants and where there may be bottlenecks. With a more accurate picture of where passengers are and what they are doing in the airport, the retail spending could increase.

Do you have more arguments so that we convince airports in providing wi-fi for free?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Who is afraid of EC Regulation 691/2010?

The EUROCONTROL Performance Review Commission (PRC) has been analyzing the performance of the European Air Traffic Management System since 1998. Initially, the focus was on en-route ATM performance. Some indicators from this framework were selected in 2010 for regular monitoring of operational airport ANS operational performance. Three of the flight efficiency indicators have been adopted as airport capacity indicators for Reference Period 1 (2012-2014) in the SES II performance scheme:
  • Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) Arrival Delay
  • Taxi-Out Additional Time
  • Arrival Sequencing and Metering Area (ASMA) Additional Time
So this is all about ANS and EUROCONTROL.Why, despite delivering data to EUROCONTROL, should an Airport Operator bother about it? Well, it may fall back on them.

Let us take the Taxi-Out Additional Time as an example. The indicator measures the delta between the Actual Off-Block Time (AOBT) and the Actual Take-Off Time (ATOT). Now if you us airline data, they may report very long taxi times. Longer times than the Airport Operator. Why? Firstly, they may measure the AOBT differently because they use a different source than the airport, for instance ACARS. Secondly, since stations are evaluated against outbound delays, they will try to 'optimize' the AOBT to remain within the 15 minutes IATA threshold and report accordingly to their headquarters. You know what I mean.

Now here comes the problem. Whoever will get the blame (and potentially penalties) about long taxi times will have to demonstrate that it was not them causing it. As an Airport Operator, would you like to engage with the parties about this sort of questions when the performance regime has been implemented and the results have been published? Maybe the Airport Operator will already want to engage in the process to make sure that  questions about data quality, measuring standards, including reasons and impact of delays, is being addressed now.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Let us grow off-peaks

Many airports continuously operate at or above capacity. Not necessarily throughout the day, but during peak hours. The most obvious solution to this problem is to make the airport infrastructure match the demand. However, there may be economical, political, environmental, space, time or other constraints preventing this. What about other approaches which are feasible without major investments and in a shorter timeframe?

Obviously, you can improve your current operational performance. You will find posts here about efficiency and effectivity, basically doing the right things right. There is, however, an area I have not explored yet, why not grow off-peaks? Let me explore two out of many textbook solutions to this problem.

Peak Pricing

One straight forward approach would be to differentiate the price of airport slots between different periods. There are often significant variations in the demand for slots at different times of day, on different days of the week and during different months of the year which can result in airports operating at full capacity at peak periods, whilst many slots may remain unused at off-peak periods. If the price of a peak period slot was higher than the price of an off-peak slot the demand for slots may be rescheduled.

Aviation Marketing

Aviation/airline marketing teams work together with airlines to explore market opportunities, support start-up operations and to help maintain a positive long-term partnership between the airline and the airport. Now this sounds great and simple to attract airlines for peak times. It may be hard though to attract them for off-peak periods, but let me give you an example on how this could be achieved. There may be this legacy carrier which is the only airline flying a specific route. Suppose you can convince an airline, e.g. a no frill airline, to operate to the same destination during off-peak times. How? Maybe you offer them a kick-back for every additional passenger on this route, including additional passengers flying on the legacy carrier. Winners? The airport, the new airline and ground handlers. Loosers? The legacy carrier which looses some yield, but do you care as an airport?

I am not sure whether this works at every airport, it has worked at least at one. Why not give it a try?