All over the world, more and more people are traveling by plane. For this reason, many airports are being enlarged or modernized. Others are being built away from existing airports.
The airport operation consists of various activities required to enable a steady flow of air traffic. The flow of persons and objects in general, as well as flight operations can be basically broken down into.
Nowadays not only business travelers demanding a high degree of flexibility, but also the modern, comfort-oriented private travelers are very exigent when it comes to precise and up-to-the minute information about their journey.
In today's large airport terminals, orientation is the most crucial factor when it comes to making the travellers' journey experience more relaxed and helping them find their way easily.
The traveller needs clear and unambiguous information about where he is, where he needs to go, how far he is from a particular point along his route from the terminal entrance to his gate, and how much time he has left. And he wants to know about his next flight, its punctuality, the allocated departure gate, services, boarding time, any possible onward connections, or the latest news and the weather forecast for his destination. Maybe there is a sudden return of winter when he expected nicer spring weather and he might just want to buy a warm jacket!
Only a well-informed traveller is a relaxed traveller who enjoys the airport experience and takes his time to make use of the valuable leisure facilities, which provide large parts of the airport revenue since the potential of non-aeronautical revenues has been tapped at most modern airports.
Signposts, a large number of continuously updated flight information screens and appropriate announcements keep the passengers informed. Thus, at any time and from any place within the airport, the travelers can access information about their flight, its status, the time left until boarding, possible gate changes (if unavoidable), as well as directions to the gate and the time required to get there.
This calls for intelligent FIDS (Flight Information Display System) and PA (Public Announcement) systems as well as careful terminal resource planning and allocation, and a close integration of systems The Flight Information Display System (FIDS) should be designed to support continuous updating of the information for passengers even while they are on the way between gates or terminals.
Every passenger's first physical contact – after entering the terminal - with the aviation world is the check-in counter or self-check-in kiosk. At this instant, the first and often most lasting impression is created, which explains why airlines make extensive efforts to enhance the quality of the check-in process.
But also the perception of the airport itself is to a great extent determined by the first couple of minutes spent in the terminal.
If the check-in counter is easy and quick to find, the queue and waiting time short, the passengers will very much appreciate that. This makes for pleased and relaxed customers, who will actually have the time and be in the mood to shop at the airport, have a drink or take a meal before their flight.
"Airports are turning into shopping malls with an attached runway for distant access."
This commonly quoted impression of many travellers may be a little exaggerated, but it is true that non-aeronautical revenues contribute a substantial and growing part of the annual income of many modern airports – in some cases they even surpass the aeronautical business already.
Shopping areas, dining experience, lounges and entertainment extravaganzas are created to transform the formerly dull waiting time of travellers into enjoyable - and profitable - quality time.
Airlines, on the other hand, are worrying increasingly about mounting departure delays due to the passengers' distraction from their original purpose of being at the airport: Some simply forget about the time and are late for boarding, which results in additional work for the ground crew and in delays. These delays, in turn, create an additional problem for the airline and the airport because flights and resource allocations are closely interdependent.
Then again, the passengers themselves will feel uncomfortable if they arrive late at the gate, so most will keep a very large time margin for boarding. There is a solution that accommodates the expectations of all parties involved: comprehensive passenger information, which means ease of mind for the passenger, full utilization of airports facilities, and prevention of unnecessary departure delays.
Once the actual time of departure draws closer, the passenger is asked to board the plane at a gate allocated well in advance after a thorough planning process aimed at optimum resource utilization.
Guided by an intelligent and well integrated FIDS (Flight Information Display System), passengers can find their way to the right gate in good time. At most modern airports, this will be a common use gate (as opposed to gates specifically reserved for a particular airlines) in order to utilize capacities to a maximum. These gates are furnished with CUTE (Common Use Terminal Equipment), some gates may even have self-service boarding facilities to reduce personnel requirements and speed up the boarding process for frequent travellers. Future-oriented concepts include the introduction of biometrics to further increase security at this crucial point.
Baggage The steady growth in passenger traffic is leading to enormous increases in the volume of luggage. Airlines and their hubs are becoming increasingly important as operators - a market moving this fast needs a reliable, competent partner who can cope with the logistics problems arising from this rapid expansion. First-class and business-class customers expect airlines and airports to ensure a high standard of baggage handling service. Check-in of passenger luggage is supported by the check-in system, which in most cases today is a CUTE system (Common Use Terminal Equipment). This system facilitates the communication between the counter and the airline systems, where the luggage identifier for each bag and the so-called BSM (Baggage Sortation Message) for the Baggage Handling Systems (BHS) at all airports along the passenger's itinerary is generated. The CUTE system also prints the Bag Tag, which is attached to the bag and used at multiple points in the subsequent journey of each bag. Future-oriented concepts will even do without paper tag. The tag is going to be replaced by small radio frequency chips for quicker and more reliable processing.
Sortation, transportation, storage and scanning of bags is supported by a set of IT applications around the baggage handling process. The initial inspection after check-in is fully automated. If there is any doubt regarding the safety of a piece of luggage, its X-ray image is scrutinized by specially trained personnel. This is followed by further automatic inspections. If necessary, the piece of baggage in question is ejected from the material flow and may be subject to visual inspection by authorized personnel in the presence of the passenger.
Baggage Reconciliation is an additional security step and IATA recommended practice as it prevents baggage being transported on airliners without the passenger who has checked in the bags being on board. Baggage Tracking and Tracing adds comprehensive search and monitoring capabilities on individual airports or even across networks of airports : knowing exactly the location of each piece of luggage at any time reduces mishandled baggage costs and improves customer service and satisfaction. Entire Baggage Management systems provide comprehensive planning, control and decision support elements to the entire airport community dealing with baggage processes from end-to-end.
The information set out in this document constitutes a set of general guidelines and should not be construed or relied upon as specialist advice. Independent legal advice should always be sought. Therefore Risktechnik accepts no responsibility towards any person relying upon these Risk Management Guides nor any liability whatsoever for the accuracy of data supplied by another party or the consequences of reliance upon it.
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