The recovery of sorts is finally underway. The overall traffic levels in Europe appear to be heading upwards and tracking a trend that would show movements to be back to pre-Covid levels by 2024. Whilst we recognise there may still be some turbulence still to come, as an industry we can start to focus on better times ahead (but perhaps still with seatbelts fastened).

Recovery in all areas is going to present new challenges across the industry. We’ve already seen Ryanair warning of a capacity crunch in 2022 with the potential to drive airfares upwards as a result of a number of major airlines reducing fleet sizes. Similarly, bringing aircraft out of storage, crew back to currency at the right time, mothballed terminals back into operation and ATC units back to peak performance in the Spring/Summer of 2022 are all bound to throw up complications and challenges that will need to be addressed. If demand comes back faster than forecast any or all of these factors could present capacity constraints.

In the airport arena, the combination of heavily reduced staff numbers, knowledge loss from redundancy programmes, Covid impacts on operations (e.g. turnaround times) and the fact that changing Governmental policies have driven the need for frantic actions to change processes and procedures have all meant that in some cases there has been less focus on strategic planning for the recovery. The substantial cost pressures airports and their customers are facing are likely to continue and mean that a careful line needs to be tread between over and under-provisioning of capacity over the next 6-12 months. Deploy too little capacity and demand (and revenue) will be supressed, deploy too much and costs will rise without the concomitant rise in revenue.

It is timely therefore that thought be given to developing a coherent plan for best matching capacity to demand for the duration of 2022 with a range of traffic scenarios to be considered and assessed against the capacity of various elements of the airport and airfield processes. By doing the hard work now and understanding in depth the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches a comprehensive ‘play book’ of responses to differing seasonal, weekly and daily demand patterns can be developed. The benefits of this approach is that completing the analysis and planning in advance can allow for rapid and optimised decision making by operational staff in season. Hence, easing the work of the staff on the ground throughout what is bound to be a challenging period.

At Think we have a range of tools and techniques to help airports understand their operational and infrastructure capacity under a range of scenarios. Get in touch with our team if you are looking to make a success of 2022 and need help developing your capacity playbook.