Tips for Improving Airport Operations


Tips for Improving Airport Operations

Almost 90% of Americans have traveled commercially in their lifetimes, and airports are necessary for the travel industry. Lively and bustling, they're the beginning, middle, and end of many peoples' journeys throughout the country and worldwide. Airports are also complex systems with many components that all require dedicated attention. Combining the facets of travel operations into one flexible, scalable management plan is essential to boosting traveler satisfaction and business success.

Creating a lucrative and efficient airport business with improved operations will benefit travelers, airlines, and employees. Updated technology and analog systems align airports with evolving trends, allowing airport managers to meet customer demands with high-quality service and efficiency.

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The Importance of Improving Airport Operations

Airport operations have a significant impact on airports and the entire aviation industry. They are complex and intricate, encompassing front and back-end processes from check-in, security handling, car parking, and retail to maintenance and customer service. Every level has unique requirements, needs, and challenges, and addressing every aspect of an airport can help create a successful business.

Effective management is crucial to keep track of an airport's interconnected systems and provide a holistic view of all operations to make the most effective decisions for overall success. International flight traffic has been trending upward in recent years, and as more people enjoy the luxury of air travel, airports must meet the increased demand, creating flexible and scalable airports to meet modern travel, comfort, and security requirements.

The principal goal of any airport is to keep planes in the air. Efficient ground operations are critical to achieving this goal, contributing to streamlined aircraft movements, and garnering higher revenues from landing fees, gate fees, and other charges. Effective operations management also improves airport security and boosts aesthetic appeal. The safer and more comfortable passengers feel, the more likely they will fly exclusively with one airport whenever possible.

Learning From the Past

Modern air travel leverages the latest technological advancements to meet increasing passenger demands and provide the highest level of security. Traditional, low-tech airport processes are time-consuming, costly, and require large teams to be effective. Airport running costs can slow business growth unless management teams plan and remain agile in the face of change. Leveraging data from the past alongside updated airport management gives teams a comprehensive look at all processes to see where they can better allocate costs or eliminate unnecessary spending.

Streamline Airport Operations

Streamlining airport operations makes employees' jobs easier and allows the business to achieve more in less time. Improved airport efficiency behind the scenes increases the chances of travelers and customers having positive experiences and returning.

Initiating Positive Returns

Airports are busy places. Travelers move from one gate to the next, employees report to their shifts, airlines experience delays, and drivers try to find the perfect parking spots. Successful commercial flights begin with organization, helping the airport meet the traveler at every step of their journey.

Some of the highest airport returns come from revenue streams other than the flights themselves, such as parking, concessions, and advertising. As airports become increasingly complex, the market continues challenging airports to elevate their efficiency, service quality, and passenger growth.

One of the main methods airports can employ to initiate positive returns is differentiating themselves from competitors. Making an airport stand out may require another look at its essential capabilities, including:

  • Robust operational processes: Efficient communication channels and operations allow airport managers to monitor daily workflow effectively and alert employees or passengers of any changes. Tracking airport traffic flow also allows managers to recognize and use consumer and tech trends to create better resource management strategies and respond proactively to future delays.
  • Elevated airport security: Passengers entrust airports with their personal information and belongings, from booking tickets to checking luggage. Security matters to them, and improving airport operations should always focus on passenger peace of mind. They should enter and leave an airport confident that they, their cars, and their luggage are safe. Within the airport and on the flights themselves, passenger safety is critical.
  • Additional revenue streams: Generating profit is part of any airport operation, meaning airport managers must leverage the airport's moving parts, fostering collaboration to meet traveler needs. Communication is vital to ensure all business owners operating within the airport are on the same page.

Business and customer information travels along secure pathways when all airport teams communicate effectively. Interconnected systems streamline monitoring airport proceedings, often using fully integrated platforms to oversee all operations.

Developing a Plan for Airport Operational Solutions

Developing an Airport Operational Plan

When planning optimal airport operations, managers should take several carefully thought-out steps to create a business plan that addresses everyone's needs while improving profitability. Airports have many moving parts to consider, such as gates, waiting areas, parking areas, maintenance teams, airlines, and vendors. Allocating the proper space and resources for all necessary components helps airports run swimmingly and support successful future operations.

Plans give airports concrete goals to work toward and let all employees know how their departments should function as part of the whole operation. They also allow managers to prioritize the specific aspects of the airport they want to improve.

Some critical steps in creating an improved airport management plan include:

  • Understanding the airport's objectives: Every airport has goals and priorities, such as minimizing delays, boosting customer satisfaction, and complying with regulatory standards. Alongside these goals, airport managers must consider the airport's constraints, such as their infrastructure, budget, equipment, and staff. Identifying and balancing the airport's objectives and constraints can yield the best solutions for each airport. 
  • Creating a planning team: Gather representatives from every airport department, including sections that need improvement and other areas that would benefit from updated information about overall business changes. Interconnected teams work best when they collaborate. Airport managers should consistently communicate with all departments to keep everyone updated on how operations may shift for the benefit of the entire airport.
  • Analyzing the supply and demand: Airport operators must consider the types and numbers of flights, passengers, and cargo that the airport must accommodate in relation to the airport's resources. They must forecast the demand and supply for different annual, monthly, weekly, and daily periods.
  • Using airport flows: Siloed operations lead to communication and efficiency breakdowns. Instead, managers can structure holistic airport operating plans based on the natural flow of passengers.
  • Reviewing feedback: Authentic feedback is one of the most effective ways an airport can learn about its successes and improvement opportunities. Airports looking for the best ways to please customers, vendors, and employees can look to feedback from places like direct employee suggestions during meetings or online reviews. Managers who consider real people's opinions have a concrete starting point for what kinds of improvements they should prioritize.
  • Defining improvement motivations: Before beginning improvements, determine the company's reasoning for making changes. Focusing on necessary changes that will be definite improvements helps the airport stay on budget and prioritize actionable change.
  • Considering the whole: While airports consist of several smaller business endeavors, the goal of any improvements should be to benefit the entire operation. Structuring a plan around the end-to-end passenger journey elevates customer service. It helps create changes that result in positive growth for all areas.
  • Communicating improvement plans: Airports aim to provide the most convenient experience for travelers. If projected airport improvements temporarily disrupt customer or employee processes, management should notify the affected people and give alternative options for unavailable services. Providing detailed information and regular updates about improvement progress is a great way to gain and maintain customer trust.
  • Working toward delivery: Planning is just the first step. Optimizing strategies for full effectiveness means revisiting and revising strategies along the way. Whenever new data presents itself, use it to determine what needs to change to deliver the best results.
  • Reflecting on outcomes: After managers implement each improvement plan, they should reflect on how well they implemented those plans and how each panned out according to the initial goals. Future planning stages can benefit from evaluating what was successful and what can work betterCollecting further feedback from customers and employees can also help administration plan future improvements.

How to Improve Airport Operations

Airports should provide products and services that benefit everyone involved with the business. When processes run well on the administrative end, employees can better serve customers and deliver high-quality experiences. 

When thinking about ways to improve overall airport operations, consider:

1. Platform Consolidation

In today's technological world, cloud computing makes data storage and information sharing more accessible and convenient. Rather than having different data solutions for each airport service, a single platform for all operations gives everyone the tools they need for successful business practices.

Cloud-based systems also give managers complete operational visibility to receive data-driven insights and make real-time decisions to avoid business setbacks. Accessible data helps airports track demand and respond to customer needs immediately. 

2. Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Reduce Human Intervention

Modern technology helps airports maximize their time, money, and personnel. Reducing human intervention in specific processes often helps businesses accomplish goals in less time with fewer errors. For example, self-serve kiosks free up employees to help with other steps of the flight process and give passengers autonomy over their travel experience.

AI has changed business operations across many industries. In the air travel industry, this technology helps airport managers automate and enhance many processes, from forecasting demand and scheduling staff to inventory management, anomaly detection, and customer service. AI can use real-time data to predict passenger volumes, flight delays, weather conditions, and many other factors that impact airport operations. Airport managers can use this information to make decisions in real time, minimizing the effect of delays.

Customer service is another critical area where AI can relieve the burden on airport departments. Natural language processing and chatbots can communicate with passengers and staff, update their flight information, provide direction, and assist them in multiple scenarios.

Automation further improves customer experience by speeding up processes like printing boarding passes, creating shorter wait times and moving passengers through the process faster. Businesses can save on resource costs with machines that eliminate human error using automated scales to get precise luggage weights and databases to keep track of customer information for straightforward customer service.

3. Budget Optimization

One of the most important aspects of running any business is organizing and allocating funds appropriately. Airport managers should track all business needs and compare those with associated costs to determine a proper budget. 

Different business tools and decisions may even lower some operational costs. For example, automated services on the administrative and consumer end promote better budget tracking and provide better spending visibility. Automation also reduces costs by replacing time-consuming manual processes and freeing airport workers to focus on customer service.

4. Customer Service

An airport's success relies on its customers, who expect a high quality of service when choosing to fly out of a specific location. Comfort and convenience should be top priorities to boost customer retention. Airports that provide plenty of amenities for their guests can establish themselves as top-notch travel providers.

If space and budget allow, kiosks with various food and beverages and full-service restaurants meet some of the travelers' basic needs. Bathrooms and seating areas should also be well-spaced and have room for everyone.

High-traffic areas should have more amenities to reduce waiting times and ensure all passengers can get what they need. Internet access and plenty of charging stations allow travelers to use their devices as they wait. Business travelers, especially, will benefit from the opportunity to get work done before their flights.

Plenty of Amenities

5. Easy and Intuitive Navigation

Ease of navigation is a critical feature of stress-free travel. A successful airport improvement plan may call for layout and navigation redesigns.

Airport travelers are eager to find their flight gates, shop for snacks, or find other necessities. An airport building with an intuitive layout helps people find what they're looking for, even in a new location.

Clear, easy-to-read signs also help with navigation. Symbols, arrows, and simple language telling people where to go next or how to find what they need all contribute to a comprehensible travel experience.

6. Paths and Walkways 

Walkways for Pedestrians

Businesses are most efficient when each aspect performs set functions uninterrupted. Walkways should be explicitly designated for pedestrians and all vehicles should use separate paths or lanes. Minimizing transportation crossover helps people get where they need quickly, without distractions or obstacles. Giving pedestrians the right of way also improves customer experience and contributes to a low-stress travel environment.

In addition, pathways should be clean, clear from debris, and always well-lit. Outdoor walkways should have proper weather protection, so people traveling during heavy precipitation or harsh sunlight are comfortably sheltered. All walkways should also be wide enough to accommodate people carrying luggage to avoid crowd bottlenecks.

7. Customer Appeal 

Airports should make travelers feel comfortable and relaxed before their next adventures. Along with being easy to navigate and understand, updated operational solutions should create a welcoming, engaging environment people will want to return to for future trips.

Traveling can be a hectic time for individuals, families, and business groups, and a well-functioning airport can help ease people's stress and contribute to a positive trip experience. Whether people are just beginning their journey or have been traveling for days, a well-run airport tells guests they're the top priority.

Visual appeal and user experience also factor into a well-functioning airport design. Calming architecture and art puts them at ease while they wait for their flights. Passengers should have easy access to clean amenities like bathrooms, food stands, convenience kiosks, and gift shops to find anything they want or need for their travels.

8. Space Maximization

Comprehensive designs maximize space throughout an airport's sections so each facet can run smoothly. Consider the minimum space requirements for each operation and assign vendor and seating spaces based on those efficiency numbers.

Give Enough Space

Allow equitable space and access for all airlines and other companies. Many larger airports host multiple airlines under one roof. Providing space for each business to operate and advertise boosts profitability for them and the airport.  Fair treatment for all airlines and other businesses,  like car rental services and travel agencies, shows the airport's dedication to client success, which may lead to continued partnerships in the future.

Depending on the airport's structural layout, some airline stations may need more direct customer access or other favorable qualities. In this case, designers should balance undesirable aspects of a location with perks like additional amenities that communicate that the airport values each airline.

9. Administrative and Employee Areas

While airports are customer service areas, they're also places of employment. All employees need comfortable, clean spaces to work and take breaks. Whether employees work in offices or at stations throughout the airport, positive workplace experiences are essential for success.

10. Storage Areas

Allow for Storage Space

Successful airports require many supplies to maintain efficiency. From shelving gift shop items to supplying kitchens and stocking bathrooms, customer service revolves around an airport's ability to meet immediate material demands. Any airport improvements should consider adequate storage spaces for additional products to keep operations running between shipments.

11. Employee Communication

A culture of improvement gets everyone invested in the results. Connecting performance goals with the whole business is critical for improved operational performance. Airport managers should create and monitor internal communications with all employees, engaging them with company values and ensuring they understand airport priorities well. These open channels of communication are particularly important for operational teams.

The Future of Airport Operations Management

The air travel landscape continues to evolve, and alongside it, the future of airport management. Operators must continue to manage fast-paced change, balancing security with passenger convenience and maximizing budgets to boost profitability.

While many aspects of the future of airport management remain unpredictable, technology remains a common part of promoting airport efficiency and passenger comfort. Decision-makers can take several steps to prepare their businesses for adaptation, keeping in mind the three main components likely to play a significant role in airport operations management:

Airport Operations Management

  • Innovative technology: AI, machine learning, and the Internet of Things have only touched the surface of their potential for automation and real-time data analytics. These technologies will revolutionize airport processes, from maintenance operations to baggage handling and security screening.
  • Process digitalization: Ticketing and check-in processes will become streamlined and contactless, enhancing the passenger experience.
  • Sustainability: Airport sustainability includes a holistic approach to energy supplies, air quality impacts, water management, ground transportation, sustainable construction, and waste management. Airport managers will review alternate energy sources, green technologies, resource optimization, and environmentally friendly management practices to stay abreast of changing regulatory requirements and passenger demands.

Efficiency is key. Even one step in the travel process that takes longer than it needs can slow down all subsequent steps. Modern airports are moving toward the most time-saving and cost-effective techniques at all stages of the commercial flight process.

Successful airport managers should be:

  • Comfortable with automation: Technological advancements are here to stay. Airports that use innovative solutions can easily adapt to industry changes and implement improvements that grow with their businesses. Effective customer service begins with efficient management operations, which technology solutions can boost through services like mobile apps for passengers and cloud storage for increased administrative efficiency and protection.
  • Aware of different customer needs: Every passenger travels for different reasons. People traveling for leisure may look for price deals, while business travelers often prioritize saving time with fewer layovers. Anticipating and meeting these unique needs provides a pleasant experience for all passengers, regardless of their goals.
  • Ready for change: As with the future of any industry, many successful airport features are yet to be discovered. New involvements in airport management also bring new challenges. Many operations can stay in place for years, while others should evolve rapidly to keep up with more significant social and technological advancements.

Airport Parking Improvements

With all the different steps traveling entails, customers deserve a hassle-free parking experience. Many passengers leave their cars at the airport during their travels, entrusting their vehicles to professional parking lot management.

Vehicle protection structures are the perfect addition to any airport parking lot. Metal and fabric structures are ideal for long-term parking facilities, protecting cars from sun and hail damage. They are also useful for loading and unloading areas, passenger drop off areas, and rental car lots.

Benefits of Vehicle Protection Structures

Some of the most significant benefits of vehicle protection structures are:

  • Protection from the elements: Vehicle protection structures are designed to help keep cars safe from damaging heat, UV rays, and harsh weather like hail.
  • Improved parking aesthetics: Travelers will want to park their cars under  these visually appealing structures, which can upgrade an airport's outdoor appearance.
  • Cantilevered designs: Cantilevered protection structures are popular for parking areas, as they feature columns on only one side, leaving parking spaces and driving lanes fully open for easy access.
  • Additional security: Protection structure vendors can design frames and canopies to accept internal wiring for safety features such as surveillance cameras and light fixtures.
  • Increased revenue opportunities: Many customers may be willing to pay for premium covered parking, making vehicle protection structures an investment with great returns.
  • Boosted branding: Airports can use canopy colors that coordinate with their brand imaging to reinforce company themes. Bright colors and unique designs make airports stand out as innovative and stylish.
  • Elevated collaboration with rental agencies: Airports may partner with car rental agencies that operate right on site. Vehicle protection structures benefit these agencies by letting them store their cars away from heat and harsh conditions. Many renters will happily choose cars that have stayed cool on hot days, and rental agencies will appreciate the chance to protect their inventory.

Contact Us for Airport Covered Parking Structures

A successful airport relies on intricately connected parts that make up the entire thriving business. Protecting travelers' vehicles is one of the most important ways an airport can show customers it's committed to giving them a positive travel experience.

VPS is a leading supplier of automobile protection structures  for various industries, including airport parking and rental lots. Our years of experience have provided practical solutions airports can count on to reduce vehicle damage for years to come.

VPS is a full-service firm, meaning we stand by businesses every step of the way, from the design process to engineering, fabrication, project management, and product construction. Contact us today for more information about our products and services for airport parking lots!

Contact us for airport covered parking structures