Emerging Operational Challenges in Airport Management.

Abstract

This research paper examines the emerging operational challenges in airport management. Using the existing literature in airport management, the paper assesses the challenges and changes that have occurred in the air transport industry.

There are challenges in the airport management operations especially where the number of passengers has increased and the capacity needs to be expanded. The fuel and maintenance cost are high. Security need to be enhanced with the ever increasing terrorism threats. The foreign currencies change in value and global recession as well have a significant impact on the airlines.

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The airports have been privatized with an aim of increasing efficiency and generating capital. Air traffic congestion has increased and there is great need for expansion. Traffic delays have also increased. International and local regulations have complicated development plans. Human resources have engaged in strikes to claim for increased compensation. The challenges can be overcome by privatizing and commercializing the airport services. Increasing security and safety measures are necessary.

Sharing information, facilities and forming networks will improve traffic congestion and decrease delays. The airport can maintain good relations with human resources and shareholders. In the future, traffic congestion can be reduced by making integrative planning with the air transport industry, government and international aviation bodies. Planning will consider expansion, traffic control and environmental factors.

Introduction

Air transport is a development that has greatly contributed to economic development across the globe. Airports provide the facilities and resources which include the run ways, terminals, gates, freights among others. Besides the infrastructure, airports have to provide services that meet the needs of the passengers.

Airports are similar and sometimes different in their services, management structure and ownership. They are in different locations where some are very advanced and others are developing. Although they are diverse, there are common challenges in the air transport industry that have emerged.

Different airports have adopted diverse strategy in their operations to enhance the performance of the airports. Managing the airport effectively is a significant role since globalization emerged. Airport facilitates economic growth and the airport management role is to ensure that all the functions of the airports enable successful operations.

They depend on transportation of goods and people. Air travel is a growing sector which has its own challenges. The airports destinations have a significance impact to the neighboring environment. Strategies have been adopted with the aim of reducing the challenges and increasing chances of success in the industry. This research paper reviews literature to investigate the emerging operational challenges in airport management.

Methodology

The paper reviews literature on airport management. It will pay attention to research based literature on the operational challenges that have emerged. It will make note of the measures taken by some of the international aviation bodies.

Emerging operational challenges in Airport Management.

According to Graham (2003, p. 1), airports are important since they provide the appropriate infrastructure to enable air travel. A modern airport consists of runways, terminals for passengers and freight, taxiways, gates, ground interchange and apron space. The facilities enable passengers to access the flights and the flights to take off and to land.

The infrastructure goes hand in hand with services which make the air transport a success. Airports can only support a certain number of passengers and cargo depending on the available facilities. The management is affected by the ownership of the air transport.

Fire and rescue, security and traffic control are significant services in the air transport industry. Managing the facilities involve directing passengers and the luggage to the required planes and correct terminals. Air transport contributes to the development of the economy, creates employment and generates revenues.

The immediate environment and the population close to the airports are affected by the airports activities. The airport management ensures that they operate the airport in a manner that is efficient, enabling for businesses, friendly to the environment, generate revenue and reduce risks among other managerial functions.

Challenges

The management structure, ownership and funding affects the operations management. The management of the airport has an impact on the economic development, customer relations and performance of the air travel industry. Strategies used are different. They maintain good relations with stakeholders, human resources, customers, environmental activists, the government and neighboring communities (Maheshwari 2007, p. 32).

Graham (2003, p. 10) indicates that publicly owned airports have public services responsibility. They are characterized by strict control from the authorities who are also responsible for funding the airport. Management practices on finance and commerce have been neglected by the public owned airports. With the government in control of the airport, getting access to financial accounts was complex.

The airport could only use the specific accounting standards of the state. Comparing the financial performance of the one airport with those of others was challenging since access was difficult. Moreover, using the specific standards for the state meant that the accounts could not be compared with those of other airports. Comparison could be possible if the accounts be recorded following other international standards of accounting.

The number of people in need of air transport has increased. There is need for the airport management to increase the capacity of the airport to accommodate the increasing number of customers. Uncertainties about the role of regional airports have emerged. There is fear that the stake holders will pursue commercial interest and abandon the role that was played by the state owned airports. State owned airports had a public responsibility.

Emerging challenges in operation are as a result of the changes in the air transport industry where a large number of the airports have been privatized. The commercialized airports have more challenges of meeting economic target by improving their performance. The quality of services has become a major area of concern and competition has become known.

Airlines have to maintain good relations. Infrastructure has become a major part of commercializing the airports. Marketing has become an important function since there are economic consequences for the airports. Concerns on the environment and neighboring communities to airport have increased. Moreover, security concerns have also been raised.

Traffic congestions have caused delays for passengers. Other challenges are air traffic control and management of demand. The planners have to ensure that there are revenues and quality services in a competitive industry. Advanced technology call for different approach to effectively deal with the challenges.

Dynamic strategic can be a solution to the challenges. Static plans do not leave room for changes which may become inevitable after the environmental changes. Competition is imminent and strategic planning should allow innovativeness and shift of tactics. Airports have an impact on the environment and planners have to make considerations at the initial stages of decision making.

Development requires planning that considers safety of the environment and the neighboring communities. Other challenges include operations in traffic control, passenger terminals, airline schedules and airline field. The airports management has resulted in sharing the facilities and the use of alternative gates (Neufville 2007).

Singh (2009, p. 3) mentions that airports have diverse ways of operating depending on the needs and available resources. Moreover, they are required to meet the requirements of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which is an international body which provides standards for air transport.

Besides following the international standards, each airport must adhere to the local regulation as the law of their state stipulates. Since they have to cooperate with international and local regulation, decision making and strategizing becomes complex. Making fiscal and development plans become challenging. Consequently, the airports work closely with the government, airlines, concessionaires and other navigation partners to strengthen the air transport industry.

The air transport industry is affected by the changes in foreign currency values. The industry is affected by recession. The uncertainty on whether respective currencies will survive is a concern to the industry. With increasing competition and number of passengers, the management operations must ensure that the airport is successful.

There are huge spending patterns for development for better services. The states have different spending patterns than before. Education and social welfare seem to be the priority of many states hence states funds for development are becoming rare (Ravindran 2010, p. 6).

In addition to the economic challenges, the human resources have engaged in strikes and protest in different parts of the globe. Their motive has been to obtained increase in compensation which is a challenge for airports. The cost of maintaining the work force is also high for the air transport industry.

The airports have resolved to minimize their expenses on the workforce to be able them to meet the financial challenge. The management has been required to increase the rates to meet the costs of maintaining the workforce. Moreover, the human resources need training and adequate time to rest. When there is high frequency, employees have been required to work for long hours.

Challenges in the airport industry also include the need to include geographical balance and the expansion of long distance travel destinations. Moreover, to attract tourists in new destinations that is considered remote and enables growth of businesses while creating employment. Airports strive to meet the international standards. What is more is that the airport operations need to be environmental friendly. The development plans are to increase regional connectivity and enable business growth.

Security is also very important in air transport. The air transport industry has made continuous efforts to enhance security by adopting technology and training the security guards to be effective and efficient. Different states have different approaches on security and complications arise. Attacks form the terrorist has made the security measures crucial (Ravindran 2010, p. 13).

The developing countries have are lagging behind and there is need for their participation at international level. They have low frequencies at the destinations with high number which implies that they have little productivity. They have a large number of aircrafts that require maintenance.

Furthermore, the fee for traveling is high compared to other destination in other parts of the world. There are high commissions for marketing their products. Insurance premiums are high for the developing countries which discourage the purchase of bulk aircrafts with larger discounts. Additionally, developing countries have a large number of accidents when compared to the rest of the world.

Inadequate infrastructures to accommodate the capacity and high cost of maintenance have affected many airports across the globe. Additional airports and expansion of runways are necessary development to prepare the air transport industry to meet the demand.

Air traffic congestion is another challenge in the air transport industry. Operations of the traffic control managers have increased. They need to be aware of the operational airports and those that are closed. There is need for forecasting to enable the air transport to deal traffic challenges in the future. Research is importance since it will make it possible for planers to make appropriate decision that will ease traffic congestion in the future.

The demand and supply imbalances in the air transport are increasing. The expansion of the airport infrastructure requires a large capital. Maintenance and fuel costs are also high, yet the number of passengers has increased.

Response to emergencies and disaster are an important area of concern for air transport service providers. Every airport has its own plan which is guidance when the disasters and emergencies occur. The nature of aviation accidents is fatal and emergency plans are essential.

Educating the community is an important part of disaster and emergency preparedness. Airports should follow aviation safety regulations given by aviation bodies and the state. The challenge is to save as many lives as possible in case of a disaster and emergency. The passengers are often concerned by safety of the aircraft and lack of preparedness may lead to loss of passengers.

In response to high fuel cost, scholars have engaged in research with an aim of obtaining alternative to fuel for airports and aircrafts. Petroleum has an impact on the environment due to emissions. The management should consider obtaining airplanes with powerful engines and advanced technology. The tax revenues in air transport are high. Costly fuel prices and maintenance costs make the tax to be high.

Accident reduction is another challenge. Aircrafts accidents during takeoff and landing can be minimized. The accidents are caused by poor conditions of the runway. Poor snow control plan can cause accidents. Inaccurate report on the runways, late submission of report, poor marking of runway, lack of maintenance of run ways and poor assessment of prevailing weather conditions can also cause accidents.

Changes in the airline sector

Graham (2003, p. 5) notes that there have been changes in the air transport industry. Globalization, deregulation and privatization have an impact on air transport. Deregulation have occur when the air line have entered into bilateral agreement and multilateral policies.

The policy changes have enabled affordable transport costs. The ownership of airports has also changed from being owned by the state. Privatization has enabled efficiency and reduced the burden of funding on the state. Global networks have also emerged and caused improvements in the air transport sector.

Consequently, the commercialization of services in the air transport industry has emerged. Airports are no longer a public utility since a large number has adopted business models in the management. Management contracts, strategic management and share floatation have emerged after privatization. Airports have been globalized with some expanding to different parts of the world.

Commercialization of airports was gradual. Independent authorities have been mandated to manage airport operations. The management allowed the public and to private companies to own shares and allowed partnership. Adopting business models changed the sector where they began seeing passenger transport fee as a source of income.

The quality of service was improved and commercial activities in the airport were increased. After adoption of business model, airports began engaging in competition. Some engaged in research and set up a new department to perform marketing functions. After privatization, the financial performance of airport can be compared to those of other since accounts can be compared to others to measure profitability. Commercial accounting practices have since been adopted by many airports.

Privatization has enabled airports to have access to free markets and to diversify. Moreover, governments control has been reduced and efficiency increased in the service provisions. Competition emerges and the ownership is increased. The shortcomings of privatization are that when there is a domination prices are likely to be overcharged and service standards may be poor.

Furthermore, environmental impacts and social injustices may be overlooked. Workers may also be caught up in poor working conditions and inadequate compensation. Privatization has led to increased revenues and efficiency. The airports have been able to expand and accommodate the increasing number of passengers.

ICAO Secretariat (2009, p. 1) indicates that bilateral agreements have increased and enabled traffic controls. The airports have shared information, destinations, frequencies as well as tariffs without restrictions. Consequently, they have gained multiple destinations, reduced traffic and enabled passengers to get better services. Others have entered into regional agreements.

New developments have introduced reduced atmospheric effluence and noise. Reduced traffic has led to reduced consumption of fuel. New designs enable efficient operation management for traffic control managers. Developments have increased revenues.

Recommendations

The planners should consider the location and fiscal implications when planning. The environmental implications should be considered before decisions are made (Airport Cooperative Research Program 2009, p. 27).

Airport Cooperative Research Program (2009, p. 5) suggests that integrating planning for airport systems will help minimize the problems. This will enable the state and the private sector to invest in airport infrastructure and services.

Planning will also enable partnering airports to meet criteria for funding which is necessary for development. Planning will also assist in meeting aviation requirements and needs that are necessary for regional development and international relations. Planning will therefore ensure that the states priorities are not neglected.

Singh (2009, p. 6) states that airports need to partner with the state and address the challenges in air transport collectively. Economic, human resource and environmental problems can be addressed effectively. Air traffic control managers can be given adequate information on large region to make decisions that will reduce congestion. Consequently, reduced traffic congestion will save on time and other costs that are associated with delays.

Air pollution is one of the challenges the air transport industry has to make changes. Concerns on change of climate have been raced and policies have been enacted. Airports have become easy to access in the modern development which involves planning. Easy access facilitates businesses and economic activities.

Despite the challenges, the air transport operations have to maintain a good relationship with shareholders and the customers. They contribute to generation of capital and revenues.

The airports should be able to meet their needs as they meet the organizational goals. A good working environment is also necessary for the employees. Different airport operation management has to be sensitive to the culture and practices of the locals as well as meet international standards of practice.

Airports should be prepared for disasters by following regulation and educating the community. The airports can obtain the support of the military and power equipment like fire fighting resources to save on the lives of those in danger.

Safety and security should be given attention at all times as (Gamper 2011, p. 1).training for the human resources to enable them work effectively and efficient is necessary. Continuers’ research should be encouraged to understand new trends and changes as they occur.

Correct marking and management of the runway will reduce the accident during takeoff and landing. Moreover, correct assessment of weather should be submitted in time. The runways can be closed when the weather conditions pronounce danger. Runways construction should ensure there is adequate friction and good drainage. The runways should be maintained regularly. The measures will reduce the risks of an accident.

Conclusion

The management structure and ownership of the airport affects the management. State owned airports are funded by the state and have a public responsibility. Private airports have commercialized their services and are owned by a large number of share holders. Privatized airports are effective and efficient.

Their accounts can follow international standards and can be compared with other airport to assess the revenue margin. The privatized companies may over look the role of the state and pursue economic interest of the shareholders. The number of passengers in need of air transport has increased; consequently, the airports need to increase their capacity by increasing infrastructure.

Consequently, there is need for funding to develop the airport facilities. Airports have been privatized to raise the capital and to generate revenues since the state has a large number of obligations to provide funding. The fuel cost and maintenance costs are also high. Emissions of fuel and noise affect the environment. There are also concerns for risk reduction on aircrafts accidents.

The human resources have engaged in strikes and protest for better working condition and increase in compensation. Competition has increased and prices have been reduced for some airlines. Furthermore, airport management must observe international, local and regional aviation regulations. The airports industry is affected by changes in the value of foreign currency and the global recession. Besides economic challenges, airports have to cope and maintain traffic congestion.

Traffic congestion has caused traffic delays. Moreover, the management is keen to make revenue and develop in the challenging environment. Terrorism is a major security challenge. Disaster and emergency prepared is emphasized in the airports. The taxes in the airports are high. To increase funding for capital airports have privatized and changed the management. The airports have entered into partnership with others stakeholders in the aviation industry, the government and international aviation bodies.

Airports form networks, share facilities and share information to ease congestion of air traffic. When integrating planning, considerations such as expansion, traffic control and environmental impacts are considered. Good relations with employees and share holders should be maintained. Safety and security should always be given priority in airports. Maintenance of airport facilities is necessary for safety.

Reference List

Airport Cooperative Research Program., 2009. Airport system planning practices. Available at < http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/acrp/acrp_syn_014.pdf> [Accessed 9th November, 2011

Gamper, D., 2011. Airport Excellence in Safety – APEX. Available at [accessed 9th November 2011]

Graham, A., 2003. Managing airports: an international perspective. Oxford ; Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

ICAO Secretariat., 2009. Overview of trends and developments in international air Transport. Available at [accessed 9th November 2011]

Maheshwari, Y., 2007. Managerial Economics. New Delhi: OP Chopra.

Neufville, R & Odoni, A. R., 2007. Airport systems: Planning, Design, and Management. New York: McGraw-Hill

Ravindran, P. C. K., 2010. Airport Management – World Class & Beyond. Asia: Asia Law House

Ravindran, P. C. K., 2008. Changing faces of Air transport world. Oxford: oxford University press.

Singh, S. 2009. Emerging operational challenges in airport management. Available at [accessed 9th November 2011]

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