Beautiful people serving the beautiful game

4 July 2012

During the EURO2012 tournament, Poland and Ukraine experienced their highest peaks of traffic ever. Some statistics: on 22 June 2012, Poland registered 2,443 flights and on 28 June Warsaw airport achieved a new record with 48 flights in an hour, for a total of 652 movements on that day. On 1 July 2012, Ukraine registered 1,946 flights, with 567 movements for Kiev Boryspil alone.

In the news story we published before EURO2012 started, we said we did not know who would be the winner. But, in fact, we had an idea - and we were right: the supporters were the ones, enjoying on time flights.

Indeed, the total minutes of delay were negligible compared with the increase in traffic that Warsaw and Kiev Boryspil experienced over the tournament, 20% and 5% respectively. For Poland, it even corresponded to a 40% reduction of total delays compared with the same period last year.

These figures show the value in collaborative working practices in the planning and tactical phases of operations.

Sharing expertise for the benefit of all

Three ACC staff members were seconded from Poland and Ukraine to join the Network Manager Operations Centre (NMOC) in Brussels. They settled in in no time at all and did a great job in the pre-tactical and tactical phases of operations, sharing their local knowledge and experience for the benefit of all.

In addition, NM airport experts were also detached to Kiev Boryspil airport for the duration of the tournament, acting as advisors to ensure compliance with slots and A-CDM procedures.

To add to the complexity of special events, many factors are out unknown: how long will the game last (extra time or not), how, where and when will business aviation passengers, many of who require VIP services, arrive at the airport.

Once the final football teams were declared, requests for slots increased significantly: over 400 additional flights (arrivals and departures) over the weekend. After the final there were over 170 departures between 22:00 and 05:00 (local time). These were mostly business aviation flights but many additional supporters' flights used widebody aircraft, too. Over the weekend significant pressure on parking positions resulted in a number of taxiways and military areas being used to accommodate parked aircraft.

Airports’ central role

At Kiev Boryspil airport where the implementation of Airport CDM is underway, the airport operator, local ANSP and NM airport experts, had started their preparations months in advance so that the airports and airspace were ready to cope with the additional traffic.

This resulted in more accurate arrival times, and improved predictability for off-block and take-off times. Operational staff could then anticipate problems and find solutions early, instead of ‘fire-fighting’ problems as they arose.

One of the tools put in place to better manage the planning at airport level is the Flight Update Messages tool (FUM). This has two sorts of messages: the ones issued by the NMOC on expected landing times and the Departure Planning Information (DPI) messages which are transmitted by the airport to help the NMOC assess and correctly manage demand. At the Kiev airport itself, the early implementation of some elements of Airport CDM helped with their own internal planning.

In Poland, the airport slot data were monitored against filed flight plans to ensure that the latter were in accordance with the airport slots. When this was not the case, the flight could be suspended in order to help with the running of the airport and to make sure that flights arrived when they were expected. Actually, some 60 flights without airport slots were manually suspended. This procedure helps flow management avoid applying unnecessary regulations and it will be continued during the Olympics.

The final

As the clock ticked closer to the final, on Sunday morning 1 July, Kiev airport traffic and data flows reached their peak.

Some equipment failures added to the complexity of an already demanding situation. However, excellent coordination between the airports, airlines and ATC (including adapting the runway configurations) ensured that priority was given to departure flights to free up parking stands for arriving flights.  NMOC helped by adapting departure routes, further reducing any delays.

Our own seconded staff, like many of the local staff, were on duty for over 24 hours to ensure that both fans and players made it home safely.

It is not how big you are, it's how big you play

For the first time, teams of experts from the ACCs and from the Directorate Network Management flew in opposite directions to bring their knowledge and extensive skills right to the field and make all the preparatory work pay off.

The enthusiasm on both sides was huge - it was genuinely contagious for all on duty.

Their contribution to the success of the EURO2012 is crystal clear. They added to the words defining this football tournament: team spirit, support, respect, performance and … fun!

For more information, contact Jonathan Wall, ATFCM expert.

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