Airport Management: Operational Strategy

Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 5436 , Published on 02 July 2011
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Have you ever wondered what goes behind to ensure the efficient operations of Atlanta based Hartsfield – Jackson Airport and at the same time ensure the safety of over 12 Mn passengers who use this airport. The reason behind choosing this airport is because it is the world’s busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic. Operating airports is not only a tiring experience but also a high risk job for the people who are behind it. However the adrenaline rush which it gives to an individual is far higher than in any job.


Airport Management

Hartsfield – Jackson airport has a total built up space of 5.8 Mn square-feet.  It has 2 terminals named as North and South terminal. The airport has 6 parallel concourse buildings which is used for passenger boarding. These 6 concourse buildings have a total of 186 passenger gates which suggest 186 planes can do deplaning and have passenger boarding’s at the same time. Apart from this it has around 1 Mn aircraft operations and handles a cargo of almost 650,000 metric tons. Such is the enormity of the airport and the job at hand for the people who are managing the airport.

Not just this airport but for all the airports in general the important operation activities that needs to be taken care of can be listed as below.

1. Air Traffic Control: It is the most crucial aspect of any airport in operation today. This actually helps in navigating the aircraft over the airspace and also ensuring the safety of those on board the aircraft. The persons manning this will decide on the course of landing of each aircraft and also the take off sequence. In busy airports such as at Atlanta it is indeed a stressful job for people working here as one mistake can cause a aircraft to come down.

2. Ground Control: It is responsible for directing the aircraft to a proper bay in the airport once it has landed. So they take over the responsibility from ATC after the aircraft lands.

So together they form the most crucial link in the successful airport operations.

3. Airport Ground Crew: For the efficient functioning of a busy airport, the ground crew who help in loading and unloading passengers, baggage are very crucial. They need to help put back the aircraft back into the air as early as possible as every minute extra they spend on ground would mean less revenue for the airport.

4. Refueling Crew: The aircraft which lands at an airport needs to be refueled so that it can take off again to another destination. Ensuring high quality and safe fueling helps in improving the image of the airport.

These are the major things that need to be taken care of for the aircraft to land and take off safely from the airport. However passenger amenities also play an important role for an airport to be considered a successful one.

5. Efficient Check In: Every passenger with a valid ticket needs to first check in through the check in counters of various airlines. The airport needs to have enough check in counters so that the passengers are not tired waiting for their turn to get their boarding pass. Apart from this the baggage that a passenger checks in needs to be loaded to the correct aircraft. This nowadays is usually handled by IT and most of the busy airports with the help of IT can seamlessly handle upto 40 Mn units per day.

6. Duty Free Shopping and Other Passenger Amenities: Airport regulations require a passenger to be present in the airport atleast 1 hr in advance.  So the airports usually take advantage of this period and have made the duty free shopping available to passengers. This also serves as a source of income for passengers and also a good shopping experience helps in improving the image of the airport in the eyes of the passengers. Apart from this an airport needs to provide toilets, medical and food facilities to the passengers.

7. Proper Infrastructure surrounding the Airport: Though it does not come under the purview of the airport management, they need to ensure that people have seamless connectivity to the airport. Also adequate parking slots should be made available so that people don’t have issues when they arrive at the airport.

The aviation sector has a major impact on the economy. All the above mentioned aspects have to be properly taken care of for the efficient functioning of the airport. One mistake and the image of the airport takes a beating. As the airport becomes bigger and busier the tasks at hand multiplies and it becomes more riskier. So managing the airport is indeed a challenging job. So with the mushrooming of airports across the world, management students will have to play a crucial role in this sector.


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