Airport capacity for all seasons

10 February 2017

Whether an airport regularly has delays or not, it is always a good idea for it to enhance capacity. Data collection is the right place to start, so that factors constraining capacity can be identified. Current traffic figures should then be compared with forecasts and plans drawn up both to improve the current situation and to meet future demand.

Airports are an extremely important part of the air traffic management: serious delays at just one major airport can affect the whole system. So, for the Network Manager (NM), helping airports with their capacity issues brings widespread benefits.

With this in mind, NM recently released its Airport Capacity Assessment Methodology (ACAM) manual. Aimed at airport executives and operational managers, air traffic controllers, airline operators, analysts and government bodies overseeing capacity enhancements, this manual presents a methodology for airport capacity analysis, based on commonly shared and accepted definitions.

Good capacity enhancement decisions must be targeted appropriately, taking all relevant factors into account: environmental impact, resilience, commercial and economic facts - not just delay.

Analysis should be comprehensive, covering not only runway/s, taxiways, aprons.

The guidance material contained in this manual starts with the rationale behind proactive capacity assessment, giving three definitions, based on NM’s and IATA’s scheduling views. It describes various ways of measuring capacity, with their pros and cons, and sets out calculation methods. Advice is given on various capacity enhancement options, covering infrastructure, human factors, procedures and systems.

The Manual ends with examples of airport capacity enhancement run at differently sized airports.

European regulation does not yet completely cover airport’s airside performance, but monitoring and benchmarking are ongoing. Performance targets may well be set in future Reference Periods (RPs). Proactive capacity assessment is vital in establishing strategic plans, based on relevant performance indicators. This manual gives sound advice on how to begin.


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