Operational challenges despite low traffic
The comparably low traffic during the pandemic has been no guarantee for more operational stability, as new challenges arise. Even though there are fewer flights and passengers, many airports experience an increase in traffic peaks, causing constraints and at certain times even capacity overloads. Many aviation professionals have left the industry, leaving the remaining and newly hired staff to perform duties with higher effort due to lengthier processing times and procedures, and the overall lack of resources. In this framework, the entire aviation system is under high pressure to enhance productivity and reduce costs. While all stakeholders have to deal with these challenges, there is often no joint approach on stakeholder management and collaboration.
Stakeholder collaboration is essential to foster operational stability
With the phase of recovery in sight, the top three issues in focus for airlines, airports and ground handlers must be collaboration, optimization and operationalization. The collaboration of stakeholders and becoming partners instead of contractors and providers is the first field of action. By jointly approaching the challenges in operations, meaningful solutions can be created together. This includes transparency and the exchange of data in a timely manner to optimize operations and enable partners to have a lead in the information chain to prepare for peaks or irregular events in operation. Secondly, the optimization of processes is a lever of improvement by combining self and staffed services by airlines and airports to enhance the handling procedures. A shift in resource allocation according to the needs of a flight helps utilize staff and equipment more effectively. Overall, procedures should be adapted to individual requirements of airlines and airports, while assuring the product is delivered, but being flexible enough to make operations flow smoothly. And thirdly, the ideas and measures must be operationalized by establishing processes and running operations with continuous improvement cycles. The connection of stakeholders’ data systems, training for operational staff at the boundaries and practicing more agility to adjust procedures are effective examples for operationalization.
Airports are a central meeting point of all involved stakeholders and are the proximity switch to foster relative coordination among all partners. Practicing relative coordination assures all stakeholders know about the role, responsibilities, as well as potential constraints of a system partner. This understanding strengthens relationships and leads to shared goals, common values and mutual respect, which is an important prerequisite for operations.
Reliable operations re-instate trust in the aviation industry
With the recovery to busier seasons ahead, enhancing operational stability is at the forefront of the to do list for all stakeholders. By working together to structure, update and digitalize data, providing partners with easy-to-use system support in order to make the correct decisions in a timely manner and enabling each other to acknowledge diverse operational matters when planning capacity, will support more stability to the aviation system. It will moreover contribute to greater productivity and performance, while reducing disruption costs at all ends leveraging more competitiveness and flexibility to react to the dynamic industry demands. All stakeholders bear a great responsibility to help recover confidence in air travel through safe and reliable operations. As trustworthy partners the aviation community can master the great awakening successfully.
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Sebastian Kaiser – Consultant in the Solution Group Customer Experience
Sascha Vogel – Senior Consultant in the Solution Group Infrastructure & Operations