New Airport Insider

New Airport Insider is an online magazine for forward thinking airport professionals and engineers. Led by a team of experienced airport professionals, New Airport Insider offers insights into the most relevant airport issues, emerging technologies, trends, and companies, and the opportunities that they create for airports.

How Industry and Media Drive U.S. Aviation Debate


Editor’s Note - Today, we are pleased to have an opinion post by an industry thought leader: Greg Principato

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No One Is Interested – No One Understands

When I was President of Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) from 2005-2013, I spent a great deal of time trying to interest the media and policy makers in the issues of how airports were funded and financed, how they were run and so on.  It was a constant struggle.  The funding and financing structure was out of date and inadequate to modern times?  Who cares!  Too hard to explain!  Boring!

The airlines were responsible for air service and lost baggage?  Well, the flight no longer comes to the airport!  The bag was lost at the airport!  It is an airport issue! You must be trying to duck responsibility! Security?  Passenger facilitation?  Well, the guy slipped through with a sharp object at the airport!  The elderly lady was patted down at the airport!  The planeload of passengers was stuck in the arrivals hall at the airport!

Food and beverage and retail?  Why are airports trying to be shopping malls anyway?  Why is public money being spent to sell magazines, coffee and shirts?  Passengers might/need want that stuff?  No, it must be an airport plot to make money!

Airports are prepared for safety and security problems that may arise?  Nah!  Can’t be true!  Anyway, who cares if they are prepared?  It’s only news, only an issue, if something goes wrong.  And then we don’t care whether the public understands or not.

Enter Vice President Biden

I recall talking to an aviation correspondent for ABC News, who told me of her unsuccessful struggles to get her editors interested in such issues.  I spoke with a top editor at the Economist, who was interested at first, but whose publication never followed up.

And then along came Vice President Joseph Biden (Full disclosure: I worked on his Senate staff from 1982-86), saying on more than one occasion that American airports are more like developing country airports and that they do not measure up, in any way, to airports in places like Singapore or Hong Kong (though those places are hardly developing).  The media all of a sudden became interested in airports.  Maybe not for the right reasons, but at least they were interested.

So, what does this mean?  Will the American airport industry be able to take advantage of the “attention”?  Who cares if airports overseas have better food and beverage options; if they are more comfortable for travelers, if they have bigger immigration halls or better customs technology?  Who cares if their restrooms are cleaner?

What Vice President Biden did, intentionally or not, was tap into the American urge to be the best at whatever we do, or to at least not be embarrassed by what we do.  And this should not just be about the airport side of the equation.  Airlines, labor, concessionaires and other all ought to be looking for ways to use the attention the Vice President’s words have cast to make the case for airports, for their importance to the economy, and to work with other aviation industry sectors to enact policies that make much more sense in the 21st century.  And they have a perfect opportunity with the basic law authorizing the Federal Aviation Administration set to expire in 11 months and due to be reauthorized.

This Time Is Like The Other Times

But two things are conspiring to keep that from happening:

First, is the Ebola situation.  And second is the fact that all facets of the industry, so far, are just retreating to their corners to argue their classic positions on the range of aviation finance issues, thereby passing on the opportunity to work together to forge a new future.

Regarding the American response to Ebola, media are hyping the story for all it is worth.  CNN, which devoted most of a month to the issue of the missing flight MH370 is now All Ebola All The Time.  Whenever there is a shred of news, or even some kind of change, it is reported as “breaking.”  Worse, there is normally a frightening headline splashed across the bottom of the screen for all to see, telling us that the bedding from the first Ebola victim in the U.S. hadn’t been changed in days, or more recently, splashing figures across the screen about how many new cases we might expect to see in coming weeks and months (leading many who see it to believe many of those cases will be in their own neighborhoods).

Please do not think I believe this is not a major world story, deserving of much coverage.  It is both of those.  But more than anything, it is deserving of clearly communicated and accurate information.  It is deserving of leadership.  I must say that industry has stepped up on this issue.  Globally, Airports Council International (ACI World) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have joined with other stakeholders to take constructive action and convey important and high level information.  Their regional counterparts, including my former association (ACI-NA) are pulling their weight and performing important service.  ACI Europe’s statement of October 14th is one of the most sensible I have seen on the topic.  Of course, that has not stopped the media from “reporting” that screening will be carried out “by” airports, even though the truth is that it will be carried out by public health officials “at” airports.

But I know from experience that when industry groups address topics such as these they are often seen as defensive; and not just because the media likes to portray them that way.  It just sounds, to the man on the street’s ear, defensive.  And, frankly, the media does not exist to lead the public, or really even to educate it (a philosophical discussion that could last for hours over some fine wine).

U.S. Aviation

Public Leadership Needed in Aviation

This is where public sector leadership comes in.  Unfortunately, the loudest voices in the United States belong to those who want to ban flights from the three most impacted countries (the fact there are NO flights from those countries does not seem to matter).  At one congressional hearing last week, an important congressman tried to make the case that a major airport in his state should ban certain flights, even though it has no authority to do so.  The surest way of shortening the Ebola problem is to defeat it where it is most virulent.  We cannot do that by drawing a curtain around the region.

And as to whether U.S. aviation interests will take advantage of the light the Vice President has shined on the industry, early returns do not look so good.  Airlines and airports are each using Biden’s comments to advance their own agenda, even though there is plenty of room for both to come together and design a whole new system to finance infrastructure, air traffic control security and facilitation.  No one likes the current system.  But, again as I learned from experience, even if some in industry want to come together to change things, their motives are suspect.  We do not need sound bites and we certainly do not need blame.  We need leadership from elected and appointed officials on these matters; leadership which will likely not be forthcoming.

I could say the same about security and a host of other issues.

Back to the Future

Many of you reading this blog post do not live in the United States, but given the travel that begins or ends here, what we do here is of some interest around the world.  As I write future posts on New Airport Insider, I will attempt to shine a light on how things get done and decided (or not decided) here; even when examining issues of global importance.

Vice President Biden’s comments have drawn a lot of attention around the world.  They have certainly drawn a lot of attention here in the United States.  Once we have “defeated” Ebola and even after we have done the same to ISIS and their ilk, the problems he observed will remain.  What will be done about them?  Will anyone care?

The answers to those questions remain open.

Images by Stephan.

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Beijing New Airports


China is now renowned for building hundreds of airports throughout the country. Having 90% of the Chinese population living less than 100 km from an airport by 2020 is one of the many ambitious targets found in the government’s five-year plan. We covered these in our first article China Airports Build. Also mentioned are China’s three megalopolis of Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing which account for one third of the country’s air passenger traffic. These cities already have well-developed air transport systems serving roughly the three cities’ 60 million inhabitants. Yet, Beijing’s Capital Airport (BCIA), the second busiest airport in the world, has exceeded its capacity while handling 83.7 million passengers in 2013.

Capital airport’s capacity was raised to 82 million passengers per year in 2008 with the opening of Terminal 3. It increased capacity by 50 million passengers after a 4-year extension. At this occasion, a new runway was built, as well as a shuttle train that makes the airport reachable from Beijing subway in 15 to 20 minutes.

The idea of a new airport for Beijing actually came up in early 2000, though an expansion of the current airport was preferred at the time. But aviation has been growing fast and 6 years later it is more than time to move forward.

2 Beijing International Airports to Meet Demand

Traffic at Beijing Capital is expected to reach 90 million passengers per year in 2015. And Beijing-based Air China will receive 113 airplanes during the next three years. All-in-all, Chinese airlines should operate 4200 aircrafts at the end of the decade, twice more than today. Back in 2011, the Civil Aviation Administration of China was already warning:

It is now impossible to add even one more flight to the tight daily schedule of the capital airport

Proposed in 2008 and approved in late 2012, Beijing Daxing airport work started this month and it should be four years before it opens. 14 years after the opening of Shanghai’s second airport in PuDong, Beijing will soon have its second international airport. Together, Shanghai airports handled 83 million passengers in 2013, approximately the same amount than Beijing Capital.

Beijing Daxing Airport

Beijing Daxing Airport – How Modern Is It?

Like Beijing Capital’s airport express, a brand new 37km-rail link to the city will be built in order to move passengers from Beijing South Railway station (and then Beijing subway) to the airport. But Daxing airport could also feature quite unprecedented ideas in China. First, the airport will not only serve Beijing but also nearby’s Megalopolis of Tianjin or cities in Hebei. Meanwhile, Tianjin airport experienced a double-digit growth in 2013, then handling more than 10 million passengers. The provinces and cities are working together to coordinate the work, and the government is looking at building new highways or rail links in the area. That seems like a huge change in China’s policy – building new airports everywhere (again, see our China Airports Build: Too Many Too Fast?). This example brings the hope of having fewer airports but better integrated in the hole transport network. Beijing New International Airport will then incorporate a “Ground Transportation Center” to enhance air-ground public transport connectivity.

Secondly, with the creation of a low-cost terminal under consideration, Beijing’s new airport could be another significant step in favor of the development of low cost carriers in the country. The new airport will also have a dedicated runway for military use, and will replace Beijing Nanyuan, a semi-military base and hub of China United Airlines due to close once Daxing airport is completed, having its flights moved to the new airport

New Beijing Airports

Among the two major airports, traffic will be split by alliance. Air China will stay in Capital – remaining will be the base of Star Alliance, and Skyteam (thus including China EasternChina Southern and Xiamen airlines) and oneworld airlines will be moved to Daxing. Since 2013 Beijing allows a 72h visa-free transit that will help passengers needing to connect between the two airports.

Beijing Daxing is expected to handle 45 million passengers per year on its four runways when it opens. More unaligned carriers will move when the latter expands, the second traffic target being 72 million passengers in 2025. According to its designer NACO, Beijing Daxing could handle up to 130 million passengers with its eight plus one runways. Yet, the current Beijing Capital Airport will stay the biggest one for at least some years after the opening.

Looking Forward

The location selected will leave room for numerous expansions. 11 villages must be relocated to clear up to 3000 hectares of land. Undoubtedly such a large project will completely transform the region, and accelerate the development of the area. 500 000 jobs could be involved with Beijing’s new airport.

Beijing is a major city where having 2 airports makes sense. The government understands the benefits of an integrated transport network, and selected a strategic area that has room for growth. Assuming an 8% yearly growth, Beijing Daxing would be fully used when it opens in 2018, having to cope with about 50 million passengers. Yet, the growth has been slowing down over the past years in several major Chinese airports, and is expected to be slightly slower, though liberalization measures could change the story.

Photo credits: Capital Airport street view by keso and Capital Airport T3 by little_ram

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Australian Airports Build: Brisbane Airport Under Pressure

Brisbane Airport

This is part 2 in a 3-part series on Australian airport development. Part 1 looked at the decision to build a second airport in Sydney and the politics surrounding that decision.

Fuelled by the commencement of the Asian century, Australia’s resource sector has experienced a significant boom but with its natural resources often located in regional and remote locations, mining companies had to come up with attractive models for manning their operations.

It has been during this period that FIFO (Fly-In, Fly-Out, pronounced Fye-Foe) has become almost industry standard. FIFO involves all or part of a mine site’s workforce flying in from a city to work and live on site for a week or two and then flying home for a week or two before starting the process again (this is often called a swing).

Home Base

One of these home cities is Brisbane on the east coast of Australia. In addition to being a significant recruitment centre for the state’s FIFO workers, the greater south-east Queensland region has been a significant growth area for retirees, industry and commerce.

This has meant that Brisbane Airport has been and remains under pressure.

Peak hour delays have been a good source of fodder for local news outlets as inter-capital-city shuttles and fleets of regional turbo-jets descend on the airport at evening peak times. The demands of general business and mining schedules sharing common requirements for a finite serving of time.

But as any airport operator knows, you can’t flick a switch and have more tarmac. While the airport has 2 runways, regulatory decisions have resulted in limitations on its Converging Runway Operations (CROPS).

This means that a new parallel runway is needed.

Chicken and Eggs

A parallel runway was identified way back in the airport’s 1999 Master Plan. In the 2003 Master Plan, a parallel runway complex was expected to be delivered in 2012. And yet, in 2012, the airport and major airlines were at an impasse on the funding of the, now overdue, project.

The question of when the airlines should pay seemed to be the sticking point.

The airport operator, Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC), was, at the time, seeking an increase in passenger charges in the years leading up to delivery of the new runway to fund approximately 25% of the project. This proposal would eventuate in a surcharge of $1.80 for domestic passengers and $3.15 for internationals.

The airlines dug their heels in with one airline suggesting the proposal was like asking consumers to pay for the iPhone 10 years before its release.

While the increased capacity is sure to benefit all parties in the long run, discussions who should carry the liability and the risk for what would be an extended construction period continued for some time.

Eventually, agreement was reached and construction began in earlier this year.

Now the Easy Part

Compared to the work to reach this point, it would seem that the engineering and construction required to reclaim land and construct a brand-new runway and taxiway complex is relatively simple.

The fun part is watching it unfold as the Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) takes us along for the ride.

Part 3 of this series will look at the other end of the FIFO journey and a couple of the remote airports that grew from little (or nothing) to accommodate a lot of people and/or some relatively large aircraft.

Image (CC) Andrew Sutherland

Editor’s Note
We’re back after the summer break and will continue bringing you 2 new blog posts a month. If you have comments, we would love to hear from you. Also, if you have a topic you would like us to cover. Email us at hello[at] Thank you!

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Incheon Airport South Korea Evaluates European A-CDM

Incheon Airport

Being an advocate of best practices to implement airport collaborative decision making implies agenda flexibility, and investing ample time to allow A-CDM candidates to grasp the concept of A-CDM as it is practiced in live operations. Be it after business hours for a small party of Romanian air traffic control, on their way back to Bucharest, or for the complete stakeholder group of Stockholm Arlanda airport on a one-day visit, or for a delegation of Single European Sky experts of the European Commission’s Directorate General Move – Mobility & Transport.

A couple of weeks ago, we had the honour to host a team of 5 from South Korea’s Incheon International Airport, on a European A-CDM familiarization trip. ICN/RKSI, South Korea’s main airport and among Asia’s biggest 6, seems to be securing the ‘World’s best airport’ award by Airports Council International year after year, and is now seriously considering efficiency and capacity optimizing measures by adopting the European airport stakeholder collaboration model. Project horizon is mid 2017, running along yet another dazzling construction project.

First Stop: Preparation

Since we have the habit of preparing thoroughly for each visit, we like to scan our visitors’ level of A-CDM knowledge beforehand. That way, we avoid the risk of stating the obvious in the presentations, or ‘losing’ them at an early stage and giving the impression of talking double Dutch after a while.

We were forwarded an extensive presentation, which proved that the Eurocontrol concept elements and milestones had been surprisingly well studied. Unsurprisingly, the Incheon party was delegated by the ICT department of the airport operator and an ICT service provider, and aimed at understanding the ‘A-CDM system’ of Brussels Airport. After introductions, upon explaining to them that there is none, they were slightly taken aback, but nevertheless they engaged enthusiastically in a packed one-day A-CDM airport tour across 4 stakeholders.

So, talking double Dutch was never an issue, but understanding plain English was a bit tougher. Luckily, the Incheon party brought along an interpreter who really went out of his way to understand and translate almost simultaneously. He must have been exhausted by the end of the day…

Brussels Airport

Brussels Airlines air traffic flow manager Albert Coenen revealing an aircraft operator’s point of view on A-CDM

Second Stop: In the Field

Brussels Airport isn’t much in favor of explaining A-CDM in the classroom. It is understood at best when witnessing it enrolling in operations. So after an opening presentation on our interpretation of the A-CDM concept by ourselves, we don our safety jackets and go out.

We scheduled a concise presentation on departure planning information exchange between our ANSP and the Network Manager, presented by the Belgocontrol team, and try for a visit to the Delivery position in the tower for a brief exchange of thoughts on departure sequencing (which we usually manage in off-peak moments).


Aviapartner A-CDM coordinator Karin De Rademaeker, explaining basic TOBT management by the ground handler to Incheon Airport.

Next up is a visit to the A-CDM working positions of one of our home carriers and main ground handlers, each in turn explaining their approach on Collaborative Decision Making, the way procedures and data elements were integrated in their operations, and got adopted by all staff over time. The dreaded culture change…

In this way, we almost always achieve the goal we have in mind at the start of every familiarization visit: to let our visitors discover for themselves how A-CDM blends into day-to-day operations on an airport, and how the concept pops up in the procedures and technical solutions at each stakeholder. It’s definitely worth the preparation and the required agenda space.

Lastly, Taking Up the challenge

The Incheon A-CDM team gave themselves 3 years to deliver a data sharing platform, which in my opinion shouldn’t pose any major problems. However, there are some concerns about stakeholder commitment, and they left us with lots of things to consider on that subject, on data disclosure and responsibilities.

Although Incheon Airport  is known for sporting an 18-hole golf course, it may well be that putting Airport Collaborative Decision Making into business will turn out to be a different ball game…

What is your take on A-CDM at non-European airports? Unlike Europe, there is no option to interlink airport operations in a network manager controlled environment, thus lacking the ‘netwoHence, does local capacity optimization justify substantial investments in collaborative decision making technology and culture change?

Editor’s Note
We will be on holiday in August and back with a new blog post in September. The New Airport Insider team thanks you for your readership and wishes you a great summer!

Photo credit: Incheon Airport via Flickr

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Australia Airports Build: Politics and Sydney Airport No. 2

Sydney Airport, Australia

A couple of the world’s airport hotspots have already been profiled on this blog but this post isn’t about a hotspot, it’s probably more of an odd-spot.

While Australia is a big country, it is also a small country. It has a similar land mass to mainland US but only a fraction of the population (around 23 million). This population tends to inhabit the larger coastal cities but a booming resource sector has resulted in a mobile workforce making weekly and fortnightly journeys to mine sites in some extremely remote areas.

It is also nearly the end of the earth. So it doesn’t have an international hub. Although, as a destination (and, in this author’s biased opinion, a really nice one), it has a couple of gateway airports that do hub out to the nation’s regional and remote airports.

This post, the 1st in a series of 3, will take a look at the recent decision to, finally, name the site of the second airport for Australia’s major international gateway, Sydney.

A Short History of Sydney Airport

The Sydney Airport (Kingsford Smith as it is known locally) began life a long time ago as a landing field on the shores of Sydney’s Botany Bay. The site’s benefits meant that it continued to be used in this capacity, as other sites found different uses, until it became the primary airport for Australia’s premiere city.

This site has witnessed much of Australia’s aviation history, including welcoming the jet age and other major aircraft introductions.

It has always been the centre of much-politicised controversy with noise the most common issue.

Sydney Airport Tower

Foresight Squandered

The need for a second airport for Sydney was first identified in the 1940s but it was the during the late 1960s and early 1970s that this foresight lost its focus. Studies, sites, protests, rethinks, studies, more sites became a merry-go-round that must have seemed impossible to get off.

In late 1979, Badgery’s Creek gets a significant mention but it takes another 7 years for an announcement to be made that it will be the site for Syndey’s second airport.

And then, while this site sat waiting to be developed (with political will waning and rebounding) when the need arose, the suburban sprawl of Sydney grew out to the west and before long, the once isolated site had neighbours. And these people were now used to and perhaps seeking the quieter life just a little removed from the raucous of the big city.

When the time was nearing to commence development of the second airport site, it’s peace-loving neighbours strongly objected and given they were an incumbent voting constituency, they had a significant voice in the political sphere.

With the Badgery’s Creek site out of favour, alternatives were sought, proposed and often discarded. All with their own political dynamics at play.

Notable examples included existing and new airports located out of the Sydney Basin with high-speed rail connection as well as partial or complete civilian take-overs of nearby military air bases.

However, the prospect of a large international airport in the neighbourhood found little traction anywhere and the phrase NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) became part of common conversation.

Sydney Airport, Australia

Back at the current site, aircraft noise continued to a hot issue and a curfew was introduced in 1995. Despite some site improvements, a third runway for example, capacity and access concerns have been voiced by airlines but the current operator continues to put forward that capacity and growth are not an issue.

And the Winner is…

In contra to the trend towards election-cycle politics, the current government have named, perhaps re-affirmed is a better description, the Badgery’s Creek site as the location of Sydney’s second airport with a firm process to it’s development.

The timeline for development is currently set at 2016 for construction and mid-2020s for the first flight.

For many Syndey-siders, this latest step probably won’t be taken seriously until the wheels hit the runway.

In my next post, we’ll look at a major on-airport development project – Brisbane Airport and it’s new parallel runway project – as it attempts to catch up to international, major domestic and significant regional air traffic growth.

Images: 1 and 3 of Sydney Airport courtesy of Sydney Airport and photo 2 of the Sydney Airport tower is by Dan Parsons.

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Introduction to Airport Planning: The Master Plan

Airport Planning, Master Plan
On January 1st, 1914. Abram Pheil became the 1st scheduled passenger in aviation history when he travelled between St. Petersburg and Tampa on a two-seater: Benoist XIV. More than 100 years have passed since, and aviation has bloomed as a whole new industry that connects and globalizes the world. According to ICAO, by 2010 there were more than 25,000,000 aircraft movements around the world transporting around 2.8 billion passengers. Certainly a leap compared to 1914. And it keeps on going.

Aviation has constantly grown twofold every 15 years, indicating that by 2030, there will be around 6 billion passengers transported through air in the world. As aircrafts become larger, deregulation worldwide increases, and aircraft numbers climb across; there is a big question mark left to answer: How do airports adapt to all this growth?

Airport planning has become a key activity in order to maintain airports to speed with the quick evolution of the Aviation Industry. This, precisely, will be my main blogging topic, bringing you analysis, opinions, in-depth related topics and insights. Of course, your feedback is welcome at the end of each post. But first let’s start from the beginning: Airport planning has a very well-defined product, the “Master Plan”.

What is an Airport “Master Plan”?

The industry provides a lot of definitions which are perfectly valid, but I find that the most complete one is the following:

“The goal of a master plan is to provide guidelines for future airport development which will satisfy aviation demand in a financially feasible manner, while at the same time resolving the aviation, environmental and socio-economic issues existing in the community.” – FAA.

Other definitions by ICAO (Section1-2) or industry experts such as Kazda and Caves miss the “financially feasible manner” aspect, which is the end-tail drill of this master planning activity. The need of this “activity” is simply driven by the fact that most airport developments tend to cost quite a lot. Any slight change in the infrastructure of an airport will usually cost around the order of magnitude of the tens of millions (£,$,€), and these changes don’t happen overnight. Reality is that airport development is a tedious process (especially in Europe), and because of the impact that airports have on their localities and the magnitude of the investment costs, any change in an airport must be smartly designed and justified.

The best way to understand what must a Master Plan contains is to start by understanding what relationships do airports have with their locality, region, country, airlines, etc. And all these interactions must be considered when planning since it is crucial for the success of any airport project that the development plans are inclusive from the very beginning of all possible stakeholders.

Airport Master Plan Elements

There are many elements that confine airport planning. All these elements are to be dealt with caution since getting any aspect wrong can be a tipping point for the success or failure of an airport project.

Airport Elements

Here are some read-friendly Master Plans for UK medium-sized airports where the different elements can be identified: Aberdeen AirportManchester Airport, Liverpool AirportEdinburgh Airport, London City Airport, and Bristol Airport. All these elements might have different impacts on the airport planning process and have their associated risks detailed below:


❖    Adds volatility to the demand.
❖    Dictates the guidelines for design and operation. (Annex 14 ICAO)
❖    Likely to change over short periods of time.

Land Use

❖    Any expansion will usually require of extended surface take.
❖    May limit the expansion options.
❖    Will make the project grow in cost.

Surface Access

❖    Integrates airports as an inter-modal node of the region where it is built.
❖    Threat to service and region benefit impact.

Route Development

❖    The route profile demand will very much define the airside requirements.
❖    It can be considered the main “service product”.
❖    An airport with insufficient runway limits itself to entire markets.


❖    Airports are strategic assets for any nation.
❖    Close relation between the airport development and the governments.
❖    Airport projects can become very unpopular; this could potentially trigger a government intervention which could prevent an airport development to happen.

Local Communities

❖    Community engagement is key for the success of any airport project.
❖    Given the level of impact that an airport has in its locality, a positive relationship has to be constantly managed.
❖    All airports will have against groups which will periodically protest against the airport presence.
❖    Community pressure against airports can paralyse developments before they even start.


❖    Will define the shape that the airport will need to have in the short, mid and long term futures.
❖    In a deregulated market, volatility adds even more risk to the forecasts.
❖    Main input to planning activity.


❖    Major airlines have an important paper in shaping the operation of an airport.
❖    Future plans of airlines can have big consequences for airports.
❖    Airlines can have a lot of negotiation power when they own most of the slots in an airport.


❖    Noise impact and Local Air Quality (LAQ) have a great deal of impact on the local communities.
❖    Species environment control can add a lot of cost to an airport project.
❖    Capacity can be limited by nose-factored movements per annum.

The above is only the surface of the complexity the airport planning activity can have, and each element must be dealt with carefully. In my next post, I will cover flexible airport planning as a strategy to deal with uncertainty around airport design and project development.

If you have comments, please register and leave one (or more) at the end of the post or send a tweet to David.  Your feedback is highly appreciated.

This is part 1 in a new series on airport planning.

–  Airline Network Development in Europe and its implications for Airport Planning by Guillaume Burghouwt.
–  Airport Master Plans Document Information via FAA

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A-CDM Get Together at Heathrow Airport

A-CDM, Airport CDM

The A-CDM Team

Left to right: Rodolphe Linais from Aéroports de Paris – A-CDM at Charles de Gaulle Airport / Ruud van Ooij from KLM – A-CDM* de-icing project at Schiphol Airport / Hans Kelder from KLM Ground Services – A-CDM* de-icing project at Schiphol Airport /  Timo Suorto from Finavia – A-CDM at Helsinki Airport / Antonio Nuzzo from ENAV – A-CDM at Roma Fiumicino Airport / Paul Wiegant from KLM – A-CDM* de-icing project at Schiphol Airport / Fabian Brühwiler from Zürich Airport – A-CDM at Zürich Airport / Kris De Bolle from Brussels Airport Company – A-CDM at Brussels Airport / Åsa Göransson from Swedavia – A-CDM* project at Stockholm Arlanda Airport / Steffen Günther-Schmitz from Fraport – A-CDM at Frankfurt Airport / Linda Gerritsen from Flughafen Düsseldorf – A-CDM at Düsseldorf Airport / Ronald Heyne from DFS – A-CDM at Düsseldorf Airport / John Crook from NATS – A-CDM at London Heathow Airport / Jenny Hossen from Heathrow Airport Ltd. – A-CDM at London Heathrow Airport. 
*pre-implementation phase, or locally implemented

A-CDM at London Heathrow Airport

NATS Control Tower at Heathrow Airport

Winter Conditions Chat

Upon invitation by Heathrow Airport Ltd., the bulk of European A-CDM airports called at LHR on May 6th 2014 for a de-icing procedures meeting, kindly hosted by the UK’s air navigation services provider NATS, in their sleek control tower building at Europe’s busiest airport. In fact, we were only missing out on Norway’s Oslo Gardermoen Airport, Spain’s Madrid Barajas Airport out of the AENA network and Munich Airport, the latter being represented by Steffen and Linda, who also acted as governance members of ‘ACDM Germany’, the harmonization initiative of the German A-CDM airports.

A_CDM, Airport CDM

An Ounce of Practice is Worth a Ton of Theory

The purpose of the meeting was to benchmark our various aircraft de-icing procedures in place, or on the drawing board, and to share best practices on how to tackle this most challenging implementation step. Heathrow set the scene with a couple of impressive facts: a 90/10 ratio on-stand/remote de-icing, executed by approximately 67 de-icing trucks of a dazzling 8 de-icing companies… To be honest, the  knowledge that 90% of flights in Heathrow’s massive departure sequence are de-iced at their parking stand and need to make the runway holding point before the de-icing fluid loses its effect gave me sweaty palms!

But all gets neatly policed by sharing the data on the progress of operations in a centralized common situational awareness tool, along the Eurocontrol defined de-icing milestones, or the ‘z-times’ as I like to call them (because practically every de-icing acronym holds the letter ‘z’), providing vital information on planned and actual start and end of de-icing jobs. Which tool? Never mind, this meeting focused on procedures: who puts in which information at what time, and how to make this process as straightforward and transparent as possible. Remember Steve Jobs: ‘You have to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around‘.

Common Sense

There has been lots of fuss and buzz about procedure harmonization and/or standardisation of A-CDM procedures. Mostly the lack of it, that is. Mainly legacy carriers tend to use this as an alibi for not engaging fully into collaborative decision making, and although not exactly intellectually honest, I cannot blame them entirely; the fear of being confronted with as many procedure and parameter deviations as there will be A-CDM airports is not unreal, and things could spin out of control when complex de-icing procedures come into play.

But as the discussion in Heathrow went along, I noticed a peculiar thing: instead of finding ourselves trapped in our own little logic -and boy, do we have a history with that, remembering the harmonization task force meetings at Eurocontrol…- a dose of common sense at each A-CDM airport individually led to new data exchange procedures (locally, and with the Network Manager) that grew ‘organically’ and ended up to be harmonized to quite a large extent, almost to our own surprise.

Not There Yet…

Ironically, European winter was exceptionally mild. Now that many of us put in a lot of hard work on brand new procedures, or wanted to fine tune earlier efforts like Frankfurt, there simply was no relevant weather for us to put our set-ups to the test. So, a bit of group therapy in Heathrow as well; it’s comforting to know that you’re not the only one that is anxiously looking out to next winter season…

Let’s Take it from Here

I had the impression that, ever since the conclusion of the Eurocontrol harmonization task force meeting sequence last summer, we A-CDM airports were kind of waiting for the dust to settle. However, it’s of utmost importance that we touch base regularly to discuss future developments and steer current operations, fill out the gaps and close the missing links. So, kudos for Jenny’s team at Heathrow Airport Ltd. for taking the initiative to organize this get together. To be continued, I would say. In fact, by broadening the scope of the meeting to general implementation procedures, we could accomodate more airports in A-CDM start-up mode on their way to full implementation. After all there’s no point in reinventing the wheel, is there?

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Indonesia Airports Build: Overcrowding

Two Malaysian carriers at Bali Airport, while expension work is in progress

Two Malaysian carriers at Bali Airport, while expansion work is in progress

Indonesia’s 230 airports are as active as the ones serving its capital, and sadly busy in the same proportions. The 25 Indonesian airports managed by state-owned company PT Angkasa Pur (which includes the country’s busiest such as Surabaya, JakartaMakassar and Bali Denpasar) handled 111 million passengers in 2010, although their combined capacity barely reached 58 million.

Bali airport is running at twice its capacity but the in progress-expansion will make it ready to handle 20 million passengers in 2017 – versus 14 in 2012. That would make it ready to cope with the growing traffic until 2017, officials said. The capital of Sumatra North Medan also saw its situation changing for the best in 2013 when its new Kuala Nanu International Airport finally opened. The former Polonia airport closed last July while it was handling 8 million passengers for a capacity limited to 1. Indonesian airlines did not wait long before jumping on it, mainly for its most valuable asset: room.

Yet, despite having a brand new and roomy airport, a key item has been forgotten. The airport’s only road connection to the city is tortuous and tiny, because no road extension have been included to the project. Medan though is the first airport of the country to have rail transport integrated, even though the capacity is low. “Kuala Namu was meant to be a showcase, reassuring foreign investors and Indonesians frustrated by decades of under-investment in roads, airports and power plants” The Financial Times reports (Infrastructure failings clip the wings of Indonesian airport – ), “But instead, it has become a potent symbol for the poor planning, land acquisition problems and lack of co-ordination that have undermined the drive for progress with many other crucial infrastructure developments across Indonesia”.

Expansion Plans

In the coming year, 45 airports are to be built or relocated, including 24 airports by 2017. 14 airport extensions and several involving the country’s busiest will be completed by 2015. Yet, the figures given for Bali Ngurah Rai’s expansion point to other hidden issues. Indeed, with a 15% growth, Bali is expecting to handle more than 24 million passengers in 2016. One could wonder why an airport that has just been expanded would still lack capacity even before it is completed. A possible explanation that as a matter of fact stands for many airports in the country is the lack of available land to expand. For instance, Lion group had to set up maintenance facilities in nearby Singapore because “there is no space in Jakarta”.


Soekarno-Hatta Airport

Too Late

The current expansion plans look like an emergency response to the overcrowding situation. But nevertheless, it will be hard to get out of years of under investment, lack of leadership and delays. Jakarta’s first extension, which should be completed next year, would raise its capacity to 62 million in 2015. Assuming a 15% growth, Soekarno would see its traffic rising from 58 million in 2012 to 88 million in 2015. In other words, even if the expansion is completed on time, Soekarno would struggle to handle 40% more passengers than it should when 2015 is here.

Contrarily to other countries, such as China which plans infrastructure investments far ahead, Indonesia has not succeeded to update its aviation infrastructure and is now doomed  for overcrowding. The demand is simply growing too fast for infrastructure to keep up.

What Next? 

It is now more than ever urgent to change. ASEAN is poised for open-skies in late 2015, and the number of flights in Indonesia is very likely to increase by then. On the other hand, infrastructure is not only crowded but experience safety issues, as shown last August when a cow was hit by a Boeing 737 on a runway in Gorontalo airport. The aircraft consequently skid off the runway. And with most of Indonesia’s airlines blacklisted in the European Union, Indonesia has been criticized for the poor efficiency of its civil aviation authority when it comes to safety checks, partly due to its lack of resources. “You can imagine that with traffic increasing by 20 percent a year for the last five years and you have less than 200 safety inspectors? What do you expect?”, president of the Indonesian transportation society said. And Lion 904’s crash in Bali last year was Lionair’s 6th landing accident of the decade, mostly blamed on poorly trained pilots. And with air traffic radar systems also running at twice their capacity, in a country where weather is strong and fast changing, who knows what could happen next.

“The importance of the airline industry to Indonesia’s economy is massive”, analysts say. While the government attempts to create an environment to democratize air transport through liberalization and increased competition, these efforts are meaningless if there is not enough room for flights to land safely.

This is part 2 of 2 in a series written by Generation Y and  focused on airports in Indonesia. In part 1, we looked at Jakarta airports.

This Is Why They Tell You Not To Fly On Airlines From Indonesia

Photo credits: Bali Airport and Soekarno-Hatta Airport

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Performance: Going for the Deep Dive

In this series’s previous post, I discussed the identification of critical controls in the service of a fully-functioning airport (or anything for that matter) safety assurance, but that is not the end of the story.

The point of having these critical controls is to provide your organisation with an account of how it manages risk.

The role of the Accountable Executive, supported by their subordinates, is to be in a position to provide that account and to ensure that it aligns with the organisation’s strategy and objectives, or vice versa.

There may be some discussion on the level to which this account should reach but the following article outlines what is thought to be an effective and achievable middle ground.

A Model for Doing Stuff

When approaching the problem of assessment, it is advisable to have general model of how stuff gets done. In this case, you need a model of a systematic approach to doing.

Probably one of the most widely accepted models is PDCA which stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act. There is plenty of information on the Internet on PDCA and perhaps it is the result of an inadequate understanding on my part but I like to modify it slightly.

For me (and others), the D(o) and the A(ct) are the same thing, and you may not want to act if you haven’t planned that action appropriately.

So I like to look at it as PDC and while the P-D-C steps are in order, they may not always flow one after the other. You might have ten goes at the doing before you do a check and that might send you right back to the doing part. Below, is a somewhat colourful and hopefully informative diagram.

PDC Diagram

Starting at the Start

I hope it is obvious that this circular, feedback driven process starts with a plan. This plan will be based on the identified risk, any legislated standards and/or regulatory requirements as well as industry best practices. This is where your assessment standard will also need to start.

The assessment of the “plan” step will include answering the following questions:

  1. Does the plan address the risk, does it meet standards and requirements and is it best practice?
  2. Is the plan documented (for example, in the Aerodrome Manual or in the Wildlife Hazard Management Plan)?
  3. Does the plan result in assessable procedures, tools and/or training?

Going for a Ride

The next step of the assessment (and therefore the next part of the assessment standard) will look at the “do” part. This process will involve:

  1. Checking that the do-er has access to the procedures
  2. Checking that the do-er’s tools are fit-for-purpose, available and serviceable
  3. Checking that the do-er is trained
  4. Checking that it all comes together to achieve the plan

Who Checks the Checkers?

Some people might argue that the process I am outlining here (critical controls and assessment standards), is the “check” step – I don’t agree.

This step in the cycle is for those in the cycle. This overall process of assurance discussed here, sits outside the cycle. It is independent (and hopefully, objective) as its goal is not in the doing but in the managing or governance.

The “check” step is about feedback to the do-er and will be, itself, laid out in the plan. The plan should discuss when a supervisor or manager will review records to identify trends or sign-off work as complete – it will vary. At the very least, you are looking for feedback.

Probably, the best example I can think of is for regular but random checks of airside drivers. The authorising of drivers is the “doing” part but going out on the movement area and checking licences or measuring vehicle speeds is the “checking”.

Your assessment standard should include these steps to provide an overall picture of the system in action.

Pulling it Together

With assessment standard in hand, it is time to get to work – auditing. Some might not consider auditing real work but it can be challenging, especially when your goal is addressing risk in a functional, yet efficient way.

Runway Entry

The end result will be a condense but complete picture of how a critical control is performing. This digestible form will allow your Accountable Executive to have a full appreciation of the process by which your organisation manages risk. Put it together with some contextual statistics (e.g. significant events, losses, magnitude of operations), and your assurance processes will put you in the drivers position in terms of accountability and improvement.

This was part 3 in a 3-part series on proactive safety assurance in relation to risk assessment – part 1 looked at the Safety Assurance process overall while part 2 explored the concept of critical controls.

Feel free to contribute to this post and other posts by leaving a comment below (registration needed before you can comment).

Photo of sun by APilotsEye

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Indonesia Airports Build: Jakarta Airport Failure

8538630241_4282ef04f7_bIn Indonesia, it’s too late. After years of governmental inaction, the country’s airports are heavily saturated, and expansion plans will not be enough. Airlines are still growing fast, trapping Indonesia in a vicious circle.

The economy is booming on this tiny archipelago of 17000 islands. Air transport is nothing less than the only solution, and fast-competing airlines brought domestic air traffic’s growth to a whopping 20% in 2012. While some emerging countries manage growth well, others don’t.

Behind the amazing success of booming airlines, another reality comes up: Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. It handled 58 million passengers in 2012, but it was only designed for 22 million passengers. This represents a 163% overcapacity that as you will see, sums up pretty well the situation of airports in Indonesia.

Failure to Improve Airport Infrastructure

Indonesia is one of the four Tiger Cub booming economies and the 4th most populous country in the world. Although more than half of its inhabitants are still living on less than 2 US Dollars a day and less than 15% of them have already boarded an airplane, 141 million of the 250 million inhabitants will belong to the middle class by 2020.

With economic growth rates never lower than 6% since 2004, a rough land made of mountains and islands that make “land travel not an option in most cases” according to the state-owned airport operator, aviation has been ineluctably surging over the past decade. Indonesia growth rates are among the world’s highest which led infrastructure projects to be overtaken too quickly even though the government increased their transport infrastructure budget to 53 billion US Dollars.

Huge Airline Growth, Orders and Deliveries

Indonesia’s biggest carrier Lion Air Group is the most visible sign of the extreme and unstoppable growth of the Indonesian aviation market. It will add 48 airplanes to its 94 plane-fleet this year, allocating 28 brand-new Boeing, Airbus and ATR aircrafts to the Indonesian market. The airline’s backlog says it all: after ordering in 2011 230 single-aisle jets with 150 options in what was Boeing’s biggest order at that time, 234 Airbus jets were piled up last year, bringing the total to a huge 550. Lion Air Group takes delivery of 40 to 60 jets per year, and should keep doing so for at least the coming decade. Its main low cost subsidiary Lion Air is the most aggressive but Lion Air also owns Lion Wings and Batik Air in Indonesia.

Its main competitor, state-owned national airline Garuda competes as a full service carrier and with its low cost subsidiary Citilink. It has even grown faster than the low cost carrier Lion over the past three years, reaching an amazing 36% passenger growth in 2011. Garuda has a 110-airplane backlog but is likely to order up to 250 jets this year. Other competitors include Indonesia Air Asia, subsidiary of the renowned Malaysian low cost carrier, and Sriwijaya Air.

Such growth rates have thrilled the airlines and the manufacturers, although they completely changed the airports’ landscape: they are not able to grow that fast.

4638042629_83875a4a61_bSoekarno-Hatta Expansion Plans

Soekarno-Hatta Airport is the main hub of the 28 million-inhabitants capital, and ranks 10 among the world’s busiest airports. The busiest airport in South-East Asia and third Asian Airport was handling 38 million in passengers in 2008 – when it took over Singapore airport. In other words, it doubled in 5 years, but it did not double its capacity. The airport has never really been extended, and projects to do so always got delayed or cancelled.

The expansion process has only been started in 2012, and should be completed in 2015, raising capacity to 62 million passengers per year via the expansion of the three terminals. Other plans including a third runway and a fourth terminal that could allow Soekarno-Hatta to handle 87 million passengers are also in the pipeline.

Jakarta’s 2nd Airport: Halim Perdanakusuma 

Jakarta is as it has been for years: crowded. Its very limited capacity of 22 million passengers (the number of travelers it handled in 2007, seven years ago!) had to be overcome urgently. Earlier last year, authorities allowed Jakarta’s 2nd airport Halim Perdanakusuma Airport to be reopened to civil flights. Halim Perdanakusuma Airport would be able to handle roughly 5% of Soekarno-Hatta Airport in terms of air movements, or in other words, 4 months of Soekarno’s growth!

Insufficient Expansion for Jakarta

Let’s face it, one single airport in Jakarta will not solve everything, and the capital of the 5th largest aviation market in the world must be provided with another airport.

“We realize that this expansion is not enough, because the number of passengers keeps increasing every year” admitted the vice president of the state-owned company ruling most Indonesians airports.

The busiest airport in the southern hemisphere has been growing fast for years, overtaking Dubai but being overtaken by Istanbul with a 15% year-to-year traffic growth in 2012, and taking into consideration that the population is getting richer, the economy is improving and airlines have hundreds of airplanes to be delivered, it should keep doing so at least for the coming decade.

Jakarta, despite hosting the busiest airport in South-Eastern Asia, is not really a hub, since 3/4 of its traffic comes from domestic flights, and more than 90% of the flights are operated by unaligned carriers. That all changed last March 2014 when Garuda joined Skyteam, which accounts for roughly 30% of Jakarta Soekarno’s traffic. Therefore, having 2 airports in Jakarta would perfectly make sense. Furthermore, airlines are actively developing point to point flights, which help in avoiding the most crowded airports.


The situation in Jakarta is terrible but seems to be evolving since the expansion process is progressing. Nevertheless, this may be too late. The expansions planned will not bring enough room, and if the growth stays as high as it is, the enlarged buildings will be as crowded when the renovation is completed, as they are now, even if they are delivered on time.

This post is part of a new series called Generation Y, where we invite aspiring aviation professionals to contribute. This is part 1 of 2.

Southeast Asia low-cost airline fleet to expand by almost 20% in 2014
Indonesia’s Lion Air Orders 234 Jets From European Plane Maker (you need to be registered to access)
Garuda Indonesia aims to order 200-250 aircraft from 2014 -CEO
Soekarno-Hatta Airport Expansion Kicks Off
Indonesia poised for more rapid domestic growth in 2013, driven by low-cost carriers

Photo credit: Soekarno-Hatta Airport by Prayitno and Garuda Airbus 330 by Matt

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