Volume 15 (2020-2021)

Each volume of Journal of Airport Management consists of four 100-page issues published in both print and online. Articles scheduled for Volume 15 are available to view on the Forthcoming content page.

The Articles published in Volume 15 include:

Volume 15 Number 2

  • Editorial
    Simon Beckett, Publisher
  • Practice papers
    What business are airports really in?
    Rian Burger, Senior Principal, Airports and Brandon Orr, Transportation Project Manager, Stantec

    Most airports have an elevated vulnerability to aviation market fluctuations, which was emphasised during the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic, when most airports experienced traffic downturns in excess of 90 per cent. This led them to batten the hatches by cutting operational costs to the bone, shelving major capital programmes and shuttering swathes of terminal infrastructure. Worldwide, terminals became ghost towns, and there were rumours of airport bankruptcy. The crisis made it patently clear that airports typically had very little alternative income with which to keep the wolf from the door during such events, leading the authors to ask the question whether the airport business is not too specialised and whether it might not benefit from diversification. In considering this question, it became apparent that the airport business as we know it today might also be in danger of major disruption within the next decade. This paper argues that it might be time for airports to reassess their business model by asking the question: What business are we really in? The proposed answer might be surprising for many airport authorities who have focused on aviation as their core business for the past century. The paper offers a range of provocative thoughts and ideas aimed at encouraging airport authorities to reassess their strategic plans and innovate towards a more resilient and sustainable business model that is integrated with their surrounding communities and regions, while staying ahead of the evolution of the mobility market.
    Keywords: business model, resiliency, diversification, innovation, disruption, mobility, connecting

  • Airport technology systems in the design-build environment
    Hunter S. Fulghum, Principal technology consultant, Arts & Engineering PLLC

    The design-build method for construction is increasingly being applied to the delivery of airport projects. This includes the technology systems that are necessary for the efficient operation of these facilities. Technology systems present a unique set of challenges to the design-builder, many of which will be new to contractors. This paper examines the issues associated with the design-build approach to technology in the airport market, and ways in which the design-builder can adjust and refine their approach to deliver projects more effectively.
    Keywords: design-build, technology systems, integration, master builder

  • How to become successfully ‘net zero’
    Jean-François Guitard, Director of Business Development & Public Affairs, Aeroports De La Cote D’Azur

    The aim of this paper is to show how important sustainable development is becoming for airports. The paper explores the current manner by which an airport needs to be much more virtuous, for example, by using the Airport Carbon Accreditation. But this carbon neutrality is only a first step that unfortunately many airports are not currently achieving. Airports must be more ambitious and reach the net zero level, which means carbon absorption and not offsetting. Many actions can be undertaken by airports in order to be compliant with social and environmental aspects that are key to the future. If airports do not cope with this trend, there is a major threat including one in the near future. In addition to reaching the net zero level, airports must be proactive in various fields in order to secure a better and a green future for airports. This can include measures for many stakeholders and better use of aircraft on land and airport accessibility.
    Keywords: sustainable development, carbon neutral, environment, green airport

  • Simulating for real: The why and how of Security Drills at the security checkpoint
    Stephanie Walter, Applied Scientist, Dr Franziska Hofer, Founding Member, Zoé Dolder and Dr Signe Maria Ghelfi, Senior Researcher, Research and Development Group, Zurich State Police — Airport Division/Research and Development

    The work at the airport security checkpoint is challenging because threat situations, for which security officers are primarily trained, happen rarely. It is therefore of high importance to raise awareness and have constant concentration. This paper analyses the work of a security officer with regard to psychological mechanisms and gives recommendations for quality-control programmes. This paper presents a new training concept, namely security drills, which are covert training cases embedded in real-life settings. Security drills build a bridge between training and testing integrated in a psychologically safe environment and with the possibility to individually reflect. The paper introduces this training approach and gives recommendations on what to consider when developing new quality-control programmes.
    Keywords: airport security, quality control, practical training, decision-making, security drills

  • Decarbonising gate operations through clean energy solutions
    Stephen Barrett, Principal, Barrett Energy Resources Group and Eduardo Caldera-Petit, Programme Management Officer at UN Environment Programme

    Civil aviation authorities, working with their airport, airline and aviation business partners, are developing plans to achieve carbon-neutral aviation growth from 2020. This paper discusses how, in order to meet this goal, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Member States have agreed to a basket of measures for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation. One effective measure identified is replacing aircraft auxiliary power unit emissions with gate electrification systems and solar power as described in the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism small-scale methodology: solar power for domestic aircraft at-gate operations. ICAO, with funding support from international partners, has recently completed three airport pilot projects — in Cameroon, Jamaica and Kenya — that demonstrate how States can implement the solar at-gate measure. Beyond the direct application to auxiliary power units and gate electrification, the solar at-gate concept offers a more general approach as to how other airport electrification conversion projects, including ground support equipment, airport ground transportation and passenger vehicle use, can maximise emission reduction benefits by eliminating fossil-fuel combustion and replacing it with carbon-free electricity. This paper discusses the solar at-gate example, which demonstrates the opportunities associated with maximising airport electrification and supplying the new electricity demand with clean energy for carbon emission reductions consistent with the global efforts to address climate change, and at the same time, accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through innovation for a greener future.
    Keywords: environment, climate change, renewable energy, gate electrification

  • Case study
    The quiet airport: San Francisco International Airport’s programme for managing terminal noise for an improved guest experience
    Christopher Birch, Director of Guest Experience, Chief Operating Officer’s Office, San Francisco International Airport

    While discussions about noise at airports usually focus on the impact aircraft have on neighbouring communities, a new conversation is emerging around the impact noise has on airport ambiance, and how satisfaction and revenue may be diminished. Left unmanaged, excess noise can grow to an enormous proportion and range and negatively affect the guest experience while adding little intended value. This paper discusses how airports are fishing for opportunities to improve satisfaction and revenue by implementing sensible noise policies that serve also to improve communication with passengers in order to counter this trend.
    Keywords: guest experience, ambiance, noise, quiet airport

  • Research papers
    Conceptualising airport digital maturity and dimensions of technological and organisational transformation
    Nigel Halpern, Professor of Air Transport and Tourism Management, Department of Marketing, Kristiania University College, Thomas Budd, Lecturer in Airport Planning and Management, the Centre for Air Transport Management and Digital Aviation Research Technology Centre, Cranfield University, Pere Suau-Sanchez, Senior Lecturer, Air Transport Management, the Centre for Air Transport Management, Cranfield University and Associate Professor, Open University of Catalonia, Svein Bråthen, Full Professor in Transport Economics and Deodat Mwesiumo, Associate Professor in Supply Chain Management, Faculty of Logistics, Molde University College

    As airports undergo digital transformation, ie a paradigmatic shift in the way digital technologies are adopted and used, there is a need for actionable insights to ensure that airport digital maturity is achieved. Using an integrative review of literature, this paper develops an airport digital maturity model, focusing mainly on a passenger experience perspective. The paper then delineates two dimensions of digital transformation — technological and organisational. Subsequently, an airport digital transformation model is conceptualised to identify key factors that airports need to consider when transforming their business and interesting lines of enquiry for future research. Insights offered by the model are relevant to both practitioners and researchers interested in conducting future studies in this area.
    Keywords: airports, maturity models, digital transformation, technology, organisation

  • Effects of departure manager and arrival manager systems on airport capacity
    Paola Di Mascio, Associate Professor, Damiano Cervelli and Alessandro Comoda Correra, University of Rome, Luca Frasacco, Air Traffic Controller Officer and Eleonora Luciano, Air Traffic Management Engineer, Ente Nazionale Assistenza al Volo and Laura Moretti, University of Rome

    At the international level, interest in airport capacity has been growing in the last few years because its maximisation ensures best performance of infrastructure. Infrastructure, procedure and human factor constraints, however, should be considered to ensure a safe and regular flow of the flights. The paper presents the values of airport capacity obtained from two methodologies: the Advisory Circular AC 150/5060-5 and the Air Traffic Optimisation (AirTOp) fast time simulator (FTS). Two scenarios have been analysed: the ‘Baseline’ scenario (ie the current procedural and infrastructural airport layout) and the ‘What if ’ scenario (ie the current layout managed with Departure MANager and Arrival MANager systems). The simpler approach of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advisory circular (AC) cannot model both the complex layout of the three-runway airport and the effects of planning tools. Its potential is limited to fast and preliminary analyses. Therefore, under knotty geometrical and procedural conditions, the use of aircraft delay simulation models or (FTS) models is the only tool that meets the needs of airport-management bodies. Particularly, the current traffic volume of the examined airport is far from its Baseline capacity (−30 per cent) and is 40 per cent lower that the ‘What-if ’ capacity. The obtained results refer to the specific examined layout, but the pursed approach could be implemented to different airports.
    Keywords: airport capacity, saturation, fast time simulation, airport planning, AMAN, DMAN, Coupled AMAN–DMAN

  • ACI Update

Volume 15 Number 1 - Special Issue: COVID-19

  • Editorial
    Simon Beckett, Publisher
  • Practice papers
    Thoughts on the post-pandemic new normal in air travel
    Jim Robinson, Managing Director, Pegasus Aviation Advisors

    The COVID-19 pandemic will compel permanent transformation of the travel industry and its aviation sector. Key disruptors emerging from the pandemic will include: Behavioural changes of the traveling public; increased fear of contracting the virus during travel; continued uncertainty as to when an effective vaccine will be available, if ever; severe global economic downturn; and revised procedures to be introduced at airports and onboard aircraft that increase the inconvenience of air travel. While the immediate effects of the pandemic may be temporary, interaction with more strategic factors, such as globalisation and the digital economy, could result in disruption of the air travel sector. Issues addressed in this paper include: Aviation-industry recovery and changes to the business model; need for regulatory change; inherent uncertainty in forecasting; and impact on airport operations and development. This paper explores the impact of these factors and how they could permanently transform the air travel industry, and how the trends of global digitalisation present a unique opportunity to reinvent the entire aviation sector business model as well as the end-to-end travel experience. To achieve this will require meaningful collaboration of the digital technology and air transport sectors to drive innovation and transformational change in response to this challenge for society.
    Keywords: digital, transformation, passenger, experience, trusted, platform

  • Utility cost savings helping airports in a pandemic
    Charles F. Marshall, Airport Engineering Manager, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

    COVID-19 is impacting health, economics and operations around the world. As airports consider strategies to be resilient from this worldwide event, utility cost-savings projects are still tools to support this effort. Some airports are demonstrating that utility-savings projects work in different settings and locations. In addition to reducing energy and water costs, these projects also support sustainability efforts by reducing emissions and supporting other sustainability and resiliency goals. This paper presents some examples of how some airports are achieving this.
    Keywords: COVID-19, energy, water, savings, projects, sustainability, resilience

  • Effective project leadership and culture under stay-home orders
    Bob Bolton, Director of Airport Design and Construction, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

    The impact of COVID-19 has changed all of our lives and caused the global decline of aviation activity. The development/replacement of airport facilities and infrastructure, which was on a path to meet prior record travel demand and the need to replace ageing facilities, is now in jeopardy of moving forwards because of drastically reduced revenue streams, as the result of a substantial reduction in passenger volumes. Many airports are trying to decide if they should continue to advance design and construction activities or hold short and see how fast it takes historic operations to return. This paper discusses how, if things remain in flux, we will not finish building the infrastructure that is required to be in service when aviation returns to the levels we knew prior to 2020. It analyses how, if your airport had a gate shortage in 2019, there will likely be a similar projected condition in 2024. The paper stipulates how, while optimistically planning for the end of this global episode, airport operators can take advantage of this slow time and position facilities to meet the increased demand forecasted for aviation services. Airports around the world should decide when they could vigilantly advance development plans, supported by the airlines. Airport leaders must take action on an effective project delivery programme, managed by a team focused on partnerships for optimum results. High-performing teams are now required to collaborate and innovate remotely, holding virtual meetings and telecommuting on a grand scale, while handling the challenges of a world that is changing every day. Leaders and frontline managers must seize this opportunity and turn a challenging truth into a positive path to the development of a high-performing team, one that is capable of navigating for success for the future.
    Keywords: airports, forecasted, development, culture, leadership, challenged, accountability, hybrid

  • The airport ground-transportation industry during COVID-19
    Ray A. Mundy, Executive Director, AGTA

    The purpose of this paper is to describe the airport ground-transportation industry as the integral third leg comprising the airline, airport, ground-transportation industry; the impact of COVID-19 on its operations; and how the industry is repositioning itself for the future. The paper also depicts the positive growth many of these operators were having prior to the COVID-2019 pandemic, and the types of traffic congestion along with financial concerns that were being addressed by North American airports. Like many transportation industries, airport ground transportation is comprised of asset-based and asset-light operators. The differences in the capabilities of these operators during this period of little-to-no demand are explained. Having these different capabilities will dictate the speed at which these different operations may gear back up to serve the airline travelling public. The paper also details the disproportional number of industry drivers affected by the virus and the financial difficulties many drivers are having in this industry. Also detailed are what operators are doing to provide safe operations for their drivers and their passengers. Furthermore provided are recommended guidelines for ground operators to follow in creating a safe environment for their drivers and their passengers. Finally, the paper looks to the future and how airports and ground-transportation operators might use this downtime to plan and implement improved services as the economy rebounds to pre-2020 levels.
    Keywords: airport ground transportation, taxis, TNCs, airport parking

  • Case studies
    The effect of COVID-19 on Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and resumption of operations
    Scott M. Ayers, Safety Management System Manager and Derrick Crawley, Fire Safety Manager, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

    The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a new invisible workplace hazard into our airport environment. In response, our management team applied a systematic approach in developing strategies to minimise risks and impacts to this imminent threat. Extensive efforts were focused on amending our emergency planning and continuity of airport operations to facilitate and support airline and concessionaire’s service levels. This paper discusses how, while developing our facility pandemic response plan and restoration strategies, our management team has integrated various safety-management principles, such as policy, safety assurances, communication and risk-management approaches, to reduce and mitigate employee and passenger risk and exposure. As we look towards a vaccine and recovery, our safety resiliency improved with more proactive actions including continuity of business operations, technology enhancements, online training, teleworking, virtual meetings and stakeholder collaborations and building a robust, resilient, active Safety Management System adaptive to any emergency such as COVID-19.
    Keywords: COVID-19, safety, response, communication, emergency

  • Effects of COVID-19-related air traffic restrictions on local air quality at Zurich airport
    Emanuel Fleuti, Head of Environment, Flughafen Zürich

    This paper discusses the efforts of authorities to limit the spread of COVID-19 have led to restrictions in people’s mobility with significant impacts on air traffic operations worldwide. Zurich airport has experienced a drop of 91 per cent in aircraft movements from February to April 2020. The decrease in activity has led to a decrease in local emissions of 83 per cent for NOx, while NO2 concentrations at and around the airport decreased by only 50 per cent. Ultrafine particle numbers show similar values. The analysis further took into account the change in regional road traffic and the meteorology for comparable periods in 2019 and 2020, before and during the crisis.
    Keywords: air traffic, airport, local air quality, emissions, impacts, COVID-19

  • Geneva Airport in 2020 and beyond: Validating our strategy to develop a sustainable airport and maintaining this in the new normal
    André Schneider, CEO, Geneva Airport

    How can airports today find the right balance between accommodating the demand for air travel, the needs of airlines, and also address a framework that imposes more and more constraints on the environmental impact of the airport’s activities? We will present the results after 3 years of implementing our strategy to address this in the context of Geneva Airport, a 17.9-million passenger airport in Switzerland. We will also discuss the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and how we will move ahead.
    Keywords: COVID-19, airport strategy, sustainable development, licence to operate

  • Research paper
    Effects of the COVID-19 crisis on airport investment grades and implications for debt financing
    Hans-Arthur Vogel, Professor of Aviation Management, International University of Applied Sciences, Bad Honnef-Bonn

    While a rich body of literature on airport performance has been established during the last three decades, significantly less attention has been given to related financing aspects — although these are directly influencing the cost structure of an airport, thus affecting financial performance. This paper discusses bond financing as one of the funding options of an airport company and how it is impacted on by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the law of risk and return, the price (interest) which the issuer needs to pay to raise money in the capital markets correlates to its risk profile as reflected by an investment grade. Such bond ratings are opinions assigned by credit rating agencies of the creditworthiness of the issuer’s debt. Globally reputable examples are Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investor Service and Standard & Poor’s. The black swan COVID-19 brought air transportation to a standstill and keeps eroding credit metrics of airlines and airports. This study is comparing the credit ratings of 113 airports per year end 2019 vs investment grades assigned during the first semester 2020 (1H20). Comparable to the global financial crisis 2008/09, the number of downgrades has been limited, with most actions resulting in a one notch decrease. Privately owned airport operators have been concerned higher-than-average. The negative outlook, however, almost affected the entire sector. Investment grades appear to be more stable than share prices, which seem to be more volatile and to trigger rating actions. Nevertheless, the cost of capital for the bond financed share of debt tends to go up according to the risk and return trade-off.
    Keywords: bond financing, rating agencies, rating rational, credit rating, COVID-19, pandemic

  • ACI Update