Friday, August 27, 2010

How to fix airport delays

Airport operators sometimes tell me that because of the interconnected structure of air travel, any real solution to resolve delays needs to be system-wide. What they mean is that government and airlines need to come up with long-term plans and actions to increase capacity and remove congestion. The industry legitimately applauds NextGen, A-CDM, and other national/international airspace programs.

What can and will airport operators do now to improve the situation? They will certainly act as soon as they are being fined over delays. For instance, Dublin airport  has been fined for delays to passengers passing through security and consumer dissatisfaction. Yet, this a fine for delays processing passengers through the terminals but not for flight delays. In fact, flights can still be delayed without queues.

Just like tackling any other problem, let's first start to believe we can resolve it. Maybe the problem requires innovation to surmount. Maybe we need first to understand the impact of the problem which is, for instance, the cost of delay rather than on-time performance in percent. And, maybe we can use that data to convince our partners in joining improvement programs and recognize that the airport itself is a system which can resolve issues.

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