Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Changing role of airport operators

Airports used to be less complicated. There were less specialized functions, and they neither faced major cost problems nor significant infrastructure capacity constraints. They were managed from a regulatory and authority perspective rather than operations. The focus was on construction and being a landlord. Management processes were not too complex.

Since then traditional operational performance indicators and their relevance have not been reviewed. One example, I already covered, is the punctuality. It measures the percentage of flights departed/arrived on time with a certain tolerance e.g. 15 minutes delay. However, cancellations are not considered, there is no distinction between long and short delays, the number of passengers affected is not included and reasons for delays are not clear.

Whatever the airport's strategic position, being a premium airport or a commodity airport (same applies to terminals), there is a case to manage the operational processes and to manage the performance of all airport users - the airlines and service providers (e.g. handlers, ATC). The aim is to reduce the risk of complexity and the risk that organizations optimize their business at the expense of other stakeholders.

Let me give you an example, suppose that an airline 'runs' an airport or terminal. Which stands would they allocate to their competition? The easy accessible, nice and convenient one's?

Sure, for an airport operator to change its role is easier said then done. The airport operator will need to have the capability and tools. But from what I observe internationally, this is the direction airport's are driving towards to.

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