Machine Learning Helps Improve Baggage Handling Planning

Machine Learning Helps Improve Baggage Handling Planning

After years of steady passenger growth before 2020, and a natural strong focus on optimizing passenger movement, baggage handling systems have and will continue to be a major efficiency focus for airports. With peak demand reaching, and in some cases exceeding, 2019 levels, airports will be seeking ways to mitigate the challenges in baggage handling processes.

Baggage handling systems vary in design and throughput capacity. With increased flights and passenger volume over the years, airports are finding that their existing baggage handling systems reach capacity limits quickly and cannot keep up with current throughput demands.  There is a need to evaluate long-term development scenarios for baggage handling in the future.

Expanding a baggage handling system or building anew are both costly options. Hence, it is important to understand when capacity is likely to be reached, what effects changes in the process can have on throughput, and what can be done to leverage the existing infrastructure effectively for as long as possible.

Staff shortages are presenting additional challenges on baggage handling, such as screening stations and loading activities where properly trained staff are needed to effectively operate. Even though a good forecast and plan does not solve the staff shortage, it is crucial to be able to deploy the staff that is available more efficiently. An important prerequisite for this is to have an accurate baggage demand forecast that is updated regularly and accessible by stakeholders.

BEONTRA Solutions 

We have recently released a new feature as part of our Operational Forecasting solution. It is machine learning based prediction of expected baggage numbers.

  • View automatic prediction of future baggage numbers down to the single flight level
  • Analyze local, transfer and transit bag data aligned with passenger prediction
  • Gain access to key patterns, such as seasonality and special events

In addition, we have extended the flow modelling capabilities of our Terminal Capacity Management solution. All key facilities of the baggage handling system are included.

  • Access all passenger and checked baggage processes covered in one integrated model
  • Enjoy modelling capabilities for baggage processes in local arrival (e.g. reclaim hall processes) and departure flows (e.g. checked baggage screening, early bag storage, make-up areas), as well as transfer flows to depict the complexity of the terminal setup
  • Get an understanding of baggage distributions and peaks, as well as information and suggestions for optimal setup of staffed processes (e.g. number of 3rd level screening stations required to prevent bottlenecks)
  • View modelling options and capacity analysis for checked baggage screening, early baggage storage, transfer injection points, and baggage make up areas

Baggage-handling-flow-modelling

If your focus is more short-term driven, all baggage forecasting, and flow modelling capabilities can be used as part of the Operational Terminal Awareness solution.

  • Include the latest available passenger and baggage information in the predictions
  • Show the effects of delays and changes in passenger and baggage numbers on your baggage flows to identify peaks and potential bottlenecks
  • Providing all baggage handling stakeholders with a single common source of information and support information sharing

Contact us or request a free demo to find out more about how BEONTRA can support your airport.

Flight cancellations are one of the main sources of deviations from what has been planned and forecasted in daily airport operations

Flight cancellations are one of the main sources of deviations from what has been planned and forecasted in daily airport operations

Flight cancellations are the dominating headlines in aviation news. Cancellation levels are nowhere close to the highs during the heights of COVID in 2020. Analysis shared in OAG’s recent webinar states that the percentage of cancelled flights is multiple percentage points above pre-COVID levels. As there is no quick solution in sight to resolve the omnipresent staff shortages, one of the main drivers of cancellations, these levels are here to stay – at least for a while.   

Cancellations are rarely known prior to creating security checkpoint staff plans or when preparing and planning the operations of other key areas in and around the terminal. Understanding which flights are more or less likely to be cancelled is critical, as is knowing how to best allocate available staff.  Gaining insight into flight cancellation patterns and trends will help to create more timely, accurate planning, and prevent, or at least minimize, disruptions for passengers. 

BEONTRA Solutions 

To help airports figure out patterns and identify flights that are most likely to be cancelled, we offer machine learning based cancellation probability and status predictions. This feature is available in our Operational Forecasting solution. The algorithms identify and learn from patterns in the past and use that data to predict cancellation probabilities for flights in the future, helping save time and create more accurate operational forecasts.  

Operational-Forecasting-UI-Flights

Analysts have the flexibility set thresholds based on which flight should be considered as cancelled or scheduled. For example, flights with a predicted cancellation probability of more than 50% can be set as cancelled. Then both the probability as well as the status classification of the respective flight event is used to analyze and visualize the predicted impact of each flight cancellation, and the corresponding onboard passengers. These insights can then be easily shared with stakeholders. 

We also have extended the flow modelling capabilities of our Terminal Capacity Management solution to make use of the status information.  Based on that data, it is easy to create what-if scenarios and predict and simulate passenger flows, both with and without the passengers of the flights expected to be cancelled.

Contact us or request a free demo to find out more about how BEONTRA can support your airport.

How to prepare for a realistic yet encouraging recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic?

How to prepare for a realistic yet encouraging recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic?

The aviation industry is globally struggling with the effects of the Coronavirus resulting in 90% decrease of aircraft movements in the amount of aircraft movements at certain parts of the world, most notably Europe. While it is crucial for airports to respond to this sudden drop in order not to endanger their financial stability, it is also of great importance to understand and plan for the recovery that will happen after the severity level of the pandemic has reduced. Having a sound plan for recovery can be a make or break for airports to come out of this crisis stronger and healthier. Therefore, BEONTRA compiled a few recommendations on how to plan for a successful recovery.

Here are a few recommendations to consider when planning for your recovery:

Create multiple what-if scenarios

Due to the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 crisis, some of the airlines facing increased vulnerability might be on the verge of bankruptcy or having to significantly reduce their aircraft fleet. State aids might be given to some of these airlines, but it is still unknown whether all airlines, let alone all their routes, can be saved. Therefore, it is recommended that you create multiple what-if scenarios for your upcoming planning season on the expected amount of flights, especially if one or more of the endangered airlines serve a large percentage of your routes. It is of key importance to stay realistic about what portion of your traffic you can retain.

Expect aircraft changes

Airlines might choose not to fly parts of their fleet that are causing inefficient operations (both financially and in terms of emissions) such as the Boeing 747 or the Airbus A380. On the one hand, these might bring you lower passenger numbers and hence lower aeronautical revenues, simply because some of these routes might cease to exist or would be recovering over a long period of time. On the other hand, the overall sustainability of your airport would be increased since such routes will be served by different, modern and more efficient aircraft such as the Boeing 787 or Airbus A350.  These aircraft types have lower noise and fuel emissions contributing to a more sustainable aviation industry.

Stay conservative

Different sources state different scenarios regarding the speed and magnitude of the recovery within the aviation industry. Since most of the airline fleets are grounded, it is worthwhile to stay conservative and include more route characteristics than usual in your approach to recovery. As an example, domestic air travel will probably be quicker to get back on its feet, with restrictions likely to remain in place on international air traffic for a longer period of time. Furthermore, business traffic is likely to re-start earlier than leisure traffic as the trust of the general public in safe air travel is expectedly slow to be restored.  Hence, planning for a gradual and uneven recovery of air traffic is the safest approach. Create or update your seasonal aeronautical budget forecasts both with gradually increasing aircraft movements and also gradually increasing and segmented seat load factors to avoid overestimating your potential performance.

Conclusion

The short-term negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic can be followed by more long-term negative effects, but with adequate planning, the path to recovery can be optimised. Being realistic and exploring all possibilities, and at the same time staying optimistic that your airline partners and passengers will begin to visit your airport is the key to managing the situation properly. By accounting for the above-mentioned recommendations, you and your airport can aim for a planned recovery. When working with the BEONTRA Scenario Planning Suite you will be able to easily apply these recommendations into your recovery plans, hopefully leading to a more prosperous and profitable future.

Contact us or request a free demo to find out more about how BEONTRA can support your airport.

 

 

 

Digitally Connected Airports Conference Wrap-up

Digitally Connected Airports Conference Wrap-up

Last week BEONTRA attended the “Digitally Connected Airports Conference” hosted by Eurocontrol & ACI in Brussels. At this well-organized event, the European aviation community discussed the trends & challenges imposed on the industry in order to meet the future capacity demand.

With an expected growth of 48% in 2040, the slot-constrained aviation system is under extreme pressure to increase capacity. The growing consciousness around climate change and the EU green deal that was officially presented yesterday force airports to only consider expansion plans that do not have a negative impact on the environment.

Key take-aways the audience was briefed on to master this challenge were:

  • Increase stakeholder alignment
  • Put the passenger first
  • Support policies and legalization
  • Leverage technology & digitalization

BEONTRA contributes to these take-aways and is committed to the overall challenge of increasing capacity in a sustainable manner. Over the next months, we will fast-track and evaluate several ideas raised by our internal innovation platform process. Whether it affects your budget forecast, terminal capacity management scenarios or strategic development plan, BEONTRA will provide you with the transparency required to take sound and aligned decisions.

Contact us or request a free demo to find out more about how BEONTRA can support your airport.


How can the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on airport operations be minimized?

How can the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on airport operations be minimized?

Use these 4 recommendations

Last week’s IATA’s Economic Chart of the Week indicates that regional traffic in the Asia Pacific region is likely to decline significantly due to the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). In an unfortunate scenario, more carriers in the Asia Pacific region can cancel more flights. This would increase the negative impact on the air traffic demand at the rest of the world’s airports. In such scenario, traffic patterns shift due to the cancellations, new security regulations are introduced which are all contributing to a working environment that is different from what people are used to.

Here are 4 recommendations on how you and your airport can efficiently handle the associated challenges:

Adjust your immigration queueing predictions & communicate the plan regularly

Due to the medical checks of arriving passengers right after landing, the arrival time of these passengers at the immigration and passport control check points can significantly change. Border officials might not be present in sufficient numbers at the right time to deal with the increased workload which could result in hour-long queues, unhappy passengers and increased health risks as a result of a high density of passengers in small areas. For that reason, when creating the plans, it is important to adjust the processing time for passengers of affected flights or modify some processes and share the adapted staff requirement with the border forces to flexibly manage the passenger queues. By using multiple scenarios in stakeholder discussions, you can jointly identify the best way to handle the upcoming situations.

Increase your situational awareness for on-the-day disruptions

Disruptions combined with unusual days of operations involving additional medical checks can result in more unexpected events on short notice. Short-term (near real-time) predictions of such irregularities can prepare your Airport Operations Control Centre (AOCC) and your duty managers for the unexpected events so they can take immediate preventive action. Create regular (every 15-30 minutes) predictions for the upcoming few hours related to your expected passenger flows and queueing phenomena to avoid bottlenecks in the terminal or on the apron.

Adjust your aeronautical budget forecast accordingly

Flights during a health epidemic are either cancelled or are operating with a lower seat load factor compared to an average day of operation due to a lot of passengers cancelling their trips. This introduces noise into your historical traffic data, which must be properly filtered out when creating your budget forecasts for the upcoming financial year. Whether you are taking a manual or an automated forecasting approach, marking these days as faulty and excluding them from your predictions is vital for an accurate budget forecast. Accordingly, your aeronautical revenues might decrease during a health epidemic, but it is crucial to understand that it is only a temporary phenomenon.

Make the most of the situation

Flight cancellations and fewer passengers can also be an opportunity for your airport to improve the usage of existing infrastructure or to plan and conduct necessary maintenance or construction tasks.

Fewer aircraft can be allocated to fewer aircraft stands, so re-adjusting your stand allocation for the affected time period can significantly improve your pier-service ratio, usage of preferred gates or give you the flexibility to do routine maintenance on some of your stands. The same applies for some of your terminal areas as your airport temporarily needs to handle less passengers, making this time suitable to prepare upgrades without significant disruptions.

Conclusion

Disruptions in your traffic demand can catch you by surprise, but that doesn’t mean that you end up with a severely negative impact. Assess the situation from multiple angles and create multiple what-if scenarios to map out all your options and choose the one that you feel most comfortable with. Additionally, don’t forget that such occurrences can enable you to carry out tasks that you would not optimally be able to do during normal operations, such as maintenance activities. At the end, it is how you respond to change that matters.