Airport Terminal Management

Guides · 4 min read · Oct 22, 2021
Airport Terminal Management

Having so many steps efficiently managing a person’s process from stepping into the airport to boarding the corresponding airplane and departing can be a very daunting challenge. This is especially true for the operators of the biggest international airports worldwide, where the number of people using their terminals is massive.

Before we continue explaining how managing that process is done, let’s see the difference between the airport and the terminal. If you want to learn more about airports operations and how the processing of a passenger from ground transit until flight arrival takes place, you should go to this course below.

What is the difference between an airport and a terminal?

In general terms, an airport contains at least one terminal. An airport is an area usually called an airfield that has been designated for airplanes to take off and land on one or several runways. On the other hand, the terminal is the building that can be found in the airport. It is used for passengers to transfer from ground transportation to boarding an aircraft and enter the city at their arrival in a controlled and safe way.

Bigger international airports generally have more than one terminal, so appropriate management becomes crucial in these cases.

An aircraft is stationed by a taxiway at an airport airfield, passengers are walking towards a boarding platform to get onto the plane.

What is airport terminal management?

This refers to the airport operators’ service to optimize their operational effectiveness and efficiency while keeping down the costs for higher profitability.

These management services usually cover several aspects, with the most relevant usually being shared gate planning.

What are other important aspects of airport terminal management?

Other important aspects covered include, but are not limited to:

  • Efficient use of airport resources.
  • Long-term capacity planning.
  • Facilities cleaning and maintenance.
  • Provide a smooth experience for passengers in transit.
  • Ensuring safety for passengers, airline crews, and staff in general.

What is shared gate planning?

In the past, fewer people were traveling by plane and fewer airlines operating simultaneously, so airports could offer separate gates for each airline without much trouble. However, with the number of people passing through airports before the pandemic with many low-cost airlines in operations, management saw an answer in the gate sharing strategy.

Obviously, the bigger the airports, the bigger the challenges they will face when having gates shared. Not planning properly usually results in delays, thus affecting throughput and the whole business in general. For example, operators need to find a way to accommodate different aircraft types with different kinds of needs. Of course, there are other aspects to consider. Let’s take a look at them.

Other aspects to consider when planning gate sharing

These are the most important aspects to be considered:

  • Flights schedule and availability.
  • Physical constraints.
  • Apron safety.
  • Legal agreements.
  • Airline preferences.
  • Passenger experience.

Fortunately, operators can rely on management services that use smart automatic systems to help them plan the distribution of the airport gates much more efficiently.

By using these systems, airports can predict the management plan will play out for the company. This means airports gain access to predictive data and run simulation models to plan for possible difficult scenarios like an increase in traffic in June due to summer travel.

A sign pointing to gates, terminals T2 and T3, baggage and arrival halls in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

Why is shared gate planning important?

Airports need to please both airlines as they are their customers, but also the passenger. Without the latter, they would be out of business.

Now, finding the balance is not always easy, but a well-done shared gate plan can do the trick. And there are some immediate benefits.

What are the main benefits of a shared gate plan?

  • Accelerating peak-time turnaround when grouping flights by ground handler.
  • Reducing buffer by leveraging punctuality.
  • Understanding the turnaround times and bussing availability to better manage reallocation of late flights to stands.
  • Prioritizing transit times and gate seating availability to improve passenger comfort.

What about gate sharing during pandemic?

The importance cannot be clearer in this pandemic age. The management of social distance and other health measures brings new challenges to controlling how people move through different terminals every day.

With social distancing as a requirement, seating availability in the terminals has been reduced, so it is even more important to avoid delays to prevent congestion. Another aspect to consider is people walking from one stand to the other when they have connections. For short connection times, it would be wise to provide a short walking distance to reduce the possibility of contact.

A sign hanging at the airport pointing to gate A55.
Image source: https://travelgoalgetter.com/the-lighter-side-of-travel.html

Where is this solution used?

Accommodating different airlines and aircraft types is not the norm in airports around the world yet. For example, this is not common in US airports. However, different examples can be found in European airports.

One example is Helsinki, where they actually prioritize the walk times to allocate the stands since 35 percent of the people departing from this city are in transit. This way, they favor those having short connection times.

Another example is Dublin, where free aircraft parking has been removed, and any airline having aircraft parked there now has to pay a fee for every 15 minutes spent there. In contrast, they offer discounts for off-peak runway use.

Both airports use two different approaches to answer the same question of reducing congestion and preventing delays every day of the week.

Terminals management cost

While it may seem the cost of hiring a management company is too much, it could be the most cost-effective solution to improve the airport’s operations efficiency. Of course, the price to pay will vary depending on the airport’s size, and the number of flights per day or week, among other things.

Nevertheless, when they manage the challenges they face properly, airports increase their operations’ efficiency, which results in increased throughput and revenue, so the return on their investment is practically guaranteed.

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Aeroclass Team
A team of professionals with a deep passion for the aviation industry bringing you the newest and the most striking industry-related news and content.

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