Everyone has spent time in traffic on a motorway at some point in life. Imagine a motorway on which a continuous flow of traffic has to be sustained at the set speed limit.
If the motorway is dimensioned according to the expected throughput, the volume of cars per hour does not change and they all travel at a continuous speed, theoretically there will never be a traffic jam.
However, as soon as one car starts slowing down or one of the lanes on the road is unavailable, traffic will back up and congestion will start. At the same time, the people driving the cars will get frustrated, see their satisfaction levels go down and possibly even be late for or miss an appointment.
This same image can be applied to an airport which, as with many motorways, have a continuous flow of passengers, bags, aircraft and goods using their infrastructure. And, as soon as a delay is generated in one portion or process of the airport system, the entire operation can be impacted with reductions to the operational performance, use of available capacity and customer satisfaction.
In order to deal with these types of issues Geneva Airport, which often operates a full capacity, developed a fully integrated Airport Operations Centre (APOC) which opened in May 2017.
This state-of-the-art facility, which accommodates 30 work stations and has four large video walls displaying everything from video feeds to a custom build weather dashboard, has become the airport’s operational nerve centre.
The personnel working in the APOC not only monitor the daily operations within the airport system but manage all possible types of disruptions to the operation as well as emergency situations that are then fed into the Emergency Operations Centre adjacent to the APOC for resolution.
The Geneva Airport APOC – developed as a collaborative project between Swissport, Dnata and the airport authority – has in scope the entire airport operation, from landside access, through all terminal and airside processes then up into the airspace.
In order to monitor all these processes through a transverse and co-ordinated approach as well as to maintain situational awareness for all organisations in the APOC, an Airport Operations Dashboard was implemented when the APOC opened.
This tool captures data from a multitude of sources (baggage sortation system, check-in desks, car traffic, queue times, aircraft flows, radar data, etc) so as to display it in consolidated form. It also includes specific real-time and predictive performance indicators allowing for the APOC staff to anticipate actions that may be needed to avoid delays or reductions in performance.
From an organisational perspective, the APOC was developed around the concept of Collaborative Decision Making (CDM), whereby all decisions made within the APOC will take into consideration inputs from all affected stakeholders.
The fundamental purpose of this process is to ensure transparent and fair decision making and resolution finding.
Initially the APOC was set up with the two main ground handlers established in Geneva, with the Swiss Border Guards and the airport authority. However, shortly after opening, the main airline customer (easyJet) joined the APOC during peak traffic days and will be followed by the Swiss ATC provider as of early 2019.
The inclusion of these key stakeholders ensures even better co-ordination and service delivery to airline customers and passengers using the airport.
Fundamentally, the APOC has allowed Geneva Airport to improve its operational performance, reduce the delays in management of disruptions, improve the overall co-ordination, collaboration and communication between all stakeholders and, most importantly, sustain a continuous passenger growth without adding any additional physical capacity.
The added value of such a collaborative approach to managing airport operations has been immense and continues to be of great importance, in particular in light of the systemic capacity crunch seen through the summer’s operations generating massive delays and cancellations across the European network.