Thursday, September 5, 2013

What happened at Rome Fiumicino (FCO)?

In June this year I wrote a controversial article in my blog about whether ECTRL A-CDM improves departure punctuality or not. Using Association of European Airlines (AEA) punctuality reports I analyzed the data of A-CDM airports.

Recently I was asked about my article and I quickly updated some airports. I had to double check FCO, because since the local A-CDM go-live, the departure punctuality of the AEA carriers has dropped remarkably (see chart).

Does anybody know what is going wrong at FCO?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Reduce start-up delays (IR 89)

Delayed flights which take away slots of punctual flights have a snowball effect. The other flights will be delayed with an IR 89 which stands - in such a case - for a start-up delay.

What if the causer would take the full effect which means that delayed flights can only depart when there is a slot available? As soon as delayed flights have their doors closed they would be put on standby for immediate departure in case of a free departure slot.

Despite the resistance by unpunctual carriers and maybe your hub carrier, your potential is significant.

Want to know your potential to reduce (start-up) delays with this approach? Send us your data and we will tell you.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Does EUROCONTROL A-CDM improve departure punctuality?

For those who prefer executive summaries, just scroll down.

Don't get me wrong. I am a full supporter of Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) whether it is driven by EUROCONTROL, FAA, SESAR, an airport operator, a local ATC, or even a software vendor. However, CDM, as I understand it, goes beyond data exchange. It is the participation of the airport community when it comes to decisions of the airport about the development of future infrastructure and in daily operation.

According to publicly available information improvements by ECTRL A-CDM include reduced taxi times, fuel savings, better slot adherence, less late gate changes, less network delays, and higher arrival and departure punctuality. The departure punctuality might be the most important element in this list for an airport and its stakeholders. Why? Because airports, airlines and service providers need to allocate reserve capacities for strategic (already planned buffers) and tactical (operational day) delays.

In my recent post about airport punctuality myths I mentioned that I conducted some research about the effect of ECTRL A-CDM on departure punctuality. There were two problems with this. First, as already pointed out in the other post, departure punctuality measured in percent is an imperfect metric. And I am still going to use that impudently. Secondly, there is not much data publicly available.

For the following analysis I used data from the Association of European Airlines (AEA) who themselves receive data from airlines and Central Office of Delay Analysis (CODA). Unfortunately, the data only covers AEA airlines and it does not include passenger figures. But for the sake of this analysis I assume that AEA airlines traffic is the most critical (in terms of turnaround process for instance).

What did I analyze? I investigated all A-CDM Airports according to the DPI implementation status and split them in two categories: (1) Fully compliant (DPI operational) and  (2) Locally implemented. I was expecting the following effect from an A-CDM implementation: (a) sustainable improvement of punctuality after implementation, (b) solid punctuality during adverse conditions (i.e. last winter), (c) continuous improvement, i.e. actual year at least as good as last year with more traffic or better than last year with less traffic and (d) a positive punctuality trend in the last 12 months.

Executive summary:
The following table lists the investigated airports and the findings. Example charts of individual airports can be found below.

In a nutshell:
  • Being an 'A-CDM' airport does not mean that your departure punctuality improves sustainably.
  • Even though the number of flights decreased at most European airports, punctuality has not improved.
  • Most A-CDM airports spiral downwards in adverse conditions, i.e. winter operations.
And one more thing which I noted during the analysis:
  • It is a crying shame that we work in an industry which publishes departure times and at most European airports only about every second flight actually departs on time.
Here are some example charts of the investigated airports. If you would like more of them, just let me know - jweder (at)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Three Myths About Airport Punctuality

While Ryanair is boasting to be the most punctual European airline, Oman Air celebrates one day of 100% on-time performance on April 26 this year. Unfortunately there is no public data that proves any of these claims.

What about airports? In April 2011 London Heathrow published a record 94% departure punctuality.  Now they are Britain's worst airport according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

I think it's time to wade through some of the myths and confusion surrounding airport punctuality.
1. Punctuality is an internationally standardized metric.
Punctuality targets are usually defined in terms of 15-minute punctuality, i.e. a flight is counted as departing on-time if the plane goes off-blocks within 15 minutes of the scheduled time of  departure. But what is "15 minutes"? Is it more than 14'59" or more than 15' or even more than 15'59"? Now some airports and airlines may disagree on this but even ACI, IATA and AEA don't. If they do, then it will probably be 15'59", stealing another minute from the passenger, airline and airport capacity just to look better.

And, have you compared off-blocks times of airport and airline? Some airports check and validate differences within +/- 1 minute, most don't. Result: airport and airline report different punctuality figures.

2. Punctuality is a great metric to benchmark.

In previous posts I was highlighting some flaws of punctuality as a metric.
  • Cancellations of delayed flights improve punctuality
  • Indicator ignores size of aircraft and number of passengers affected
  • No assessment about the financial loss possible
  • Mix of performance which can be influenced with exogenous factors
  • Difficult to determine improvement measures
Why is it still used, even as internal target? Because it is easy to understand and when it is bad, it can be easily attributed to exogenous factors.

3. Eurocontrol A-CDM improves airport punctuality.

There is no evidence that ECTRL A-CDM improves punctuality. Yes, it might reduce taxi times but with a negative effect on departure punctuality. With the lack of evidence I did some research myself and present the findings in my next post.

I know it is easy to lament. What do I have to offer instead? An approach and metrics to actually address the issue together with other stakeholders. Because the airport can have that 360° view and not just the silo view by every other stakeholder.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

One year after go-live of their Airport Management Center, Moscow Sheremetyevo is the best ACI ASQ airport in Europe. Coincidence?

Lasting success is not a result of coincidence. It's the result of focused hard work.

When Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport established their Airport Management Center by the end of 2011 they endeavoured to achieve these goals:
  • To consolidate the coordination, monitoring and control of the different airport-wide spread operations control centres
  • To effectively manage the airport across organisations
  • To significantly shorten reaction times on irregularities
  • To improve the capacity and act with standard operating procedures at hand to provide excellent customer service from end-to-end
We are very glad to have been part of the project with our technology and business expertise.

One year after their go-live, ACI names Sheremetyevo the best European airport in service quality. The Airport Service Quality (ASQ) is one of the most prestigious research programs on Airport Service Quality involving 250 airports in 50 countries.

Is this coincidence? Maybe they collaborate better than before, internally and externally. Maybe they act more like a business and more performance oriented. Maybe there are less friction-losses between processes and organisations.

In the end, what counts, are the results. And this award is outstanding because it comes from the end-customer, the passenger.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The 7 habits of highly effective punctuality management

As soon as an airport or an airline has a punctuality record month, they publish press releases, they celebrate. But how sustainable is such a short-time success? If you check their performance from then on, you may find them falling back to the levels before.

Can on-time performance be actively managed? If you think it can't be managed or can only be resolved by others, the following 7 habits may present a different perspective. If you already manage punctuality, you can assess where you are in your quest.

Habit Characteristics
  • There is a sufficient number of delay codes to differentiate delay causer
  • Each delay code (with sub-code) has an owner or responsible organization
  • The delay code assignment process is clear and in place (assign, accept, reject, handling of disputes, final call).
  • Secondary delays are allocated to the original causer
  • Delay cost is calculated and assigned to the causer
  • Delay code assignment and on-time performance of every organization is transparent to everybody.
  • Data quality is high
  • Share performance with other airports
  • Only one definition of delay codes and delays across the airport based on IATA standard, incorporated in the Airport Handling Manual (AHM)
  • Any non-conformance e.g. different reporting from an airline to its head office will be brought forward to the Governance Forum
Governance and Benchmarking
  • Multi-stakeholder Airport Operations Control Center to manage the daily operational on-time performance and escalations
  • Has a Punctuality Manager
  • Punctuality Board, chaired by the Airport's Punctuality Manager, with delegates from handling agents and airlines proposes and tracks actions
  • Punctuality targets are defined and broken down to each stakeholder
  • Maybe an award/penalty pool for on-time performance
  • Benchmark against other airports
System Integration
  • Delay codes and delays are captured or integrated into one 'global' system.
  • That system should also allow to automatically track issues of a flight which could have caused the delay in case of disputes.
  • Constant, effective communication among all stakeholders
  • Maybe an award for the best punctuality improvement program
  • Agree on challenging yet achievable goals but leave it up to the partners to implement sustainable improvement
  • Provide sufficient resources for punctuality management and improvement programs