Your airport is facing a perfect storm. You don't know it yet, but three late flights this evening will arrive together. Your security and immigration staff will struggle to cope. Your wait times will soar.
To make matters worse, bad weather will cause major delays on the incoming roads, causing a large number of passengers to check in for their flights at the last possible moment. And it's all going to happen at the same time.
This airport is facing an unprecedented challenge which is a common theme across airports worldwide. But what if you can face this challenge head on and reduce congestion faced by so many airports around the world? Welcome to the world of Total Airport Management (TAM).
Coping with congestion
Airports are shouldering more passengers each year. International Air Transport Association (IATA) figures show passenger rates ballooning from approximately 3.2bn in 2016 to over six billion by 2036. Airports will struggle to keep these passengers happy. IATA's 2014 Passenger Satisfaction Survey showed satisfaction rates falling after passengers waited more than ten minutes in line at security.
To cope with the congestion and manage passenger flow intelligently, airports will need to deal with potential problems as early and efficiently as possible. This is where Total Airport Management (TAM) comes into play.
TAM is a discipline rather than a product. It is a set of processes and technologies creating a holistic view of what's happening not just inside the airport, but beyond. Put simply, it's a digital crystal ball.
Airports are already working on a more connected view of airside operations thanks to EUROCONTROL's Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) initiative and the FAA's equivalent CDM process under the FAA's NextGen initiative. This gives stakeholders a comprehensive view of issues affecting the turnaround process on the air side, but leaves them relatively blind on the other side of the gate.
Actionable intelligence, ahead of time
TAM fills that gap, using multiple data streams to analyze and predict how things may affect the passenger's journey both inside the airport and en route. It begins before the passenger even leaves home by sourcing weather data, traffic information and everything in between, building a detailed picture of the delays they may face before even reaching the airport.
TAM combines this data with airside flight status information, helping airport managers understand not only what's happening in the airport right now, but what passenger flows may look like later in the day. It provides actionable intelligence that can help airports make small changes now to prevent big problems later.
A mature, well-planned TAM implementation goes beyond improving the passenger experience. By enabling airports to better predict and manage passenger flow, it maximizes operator revenues. It lets them use their physical capacity to its fullest, processing more passengers per hour. It also helps stakeholders such as terminal retailers to increase their revenues by putting their target audience in the right place at the right time to make a purchase. It’s a key to unlocking a higher per-passenger revenue yield.
These financial and customer experience benefits aren’t an overnight phenomena. An effective TAM deployment requires a combination of organizational, political and technical expertise. Getting data from a wide variety of sources takes time, especially when some of the stakeholders are airlines with their own commercial sensitivities. Airports implementing TAM must work collaboratively with all stakeholders spanning terminal, security, landside, facility and airside operations.
Successful implementation not only increases passenger satisfaction but also becomes a central part of this information ecosystem, enabling the exchange of valuable information between different stakeholders. Airlines, for example, would be able to use road delay information to notify travelers to leave earlier on their journey to the airport. This is just one of many examples of benefits achieved through implementing Total Airport Management.
TAM will be a key long-term tool in helping airports and their stakeholders to move from a reactive approach to a proactive one in their logistics and passenger management operations. For the first time, all stakeholders can work together, contributing their own unique view of aviation operations to a real-time knowledge base that is more than the sum of its parts. TAM's predictive capabilities will help provide one of the most valuable assets in the aviation ecosystem: a window into the future.
John is the Business and Account Development Director for Leidos and our aviation team.More Content by John Bissett