30 January 2012 by Shaun McDougall
Expanding CDM in to Terminal Operations
The challenges of queuing at immigration have been brought to the fore by the recent UKBA revelations and strike action which saw many inbound flights in to major London airports cancelled.
There is no disputing security has to be paramount at all borders including Airports. However, increased security measures have undoubtedly had an impact on passengers’ progress through airports. There is mounting pressure on the powers that be to address queue times at passport control – particularly at key hubs such as Heathrow, especially in light of the forthcoming Olympics.
Currently there are a number of different stakeholders at airports, including airlines, ground handling operators, retailers and, of course, immigration. All of them run their operational systems in silos. This divergent approach means that identification of potential issues that could negatively impact passengers are not shared and therefore problems are confounded.
If airport stakeholders work in unison, sharing demand forecasts and tactical readjustments in real time, then the likelihood of service levels dipping and the resultant security compromising actions would be diminished. These initiatives are already prevalent in the Airport environment with a concept known as Collaborative Decision Making (CDM). CDM is targeted at ensuring Airports, Airlines and Air Navigation Service Providers around the world implement a common platform for information sharing across airside operations.
This is not an impending silver bullet for the operational challenges around immigration however. To adequately respond to the challenge, CDM must extend beyond the gate, deep in to terminal operations and across a greater number of stakeholders throughout the airport operation – truly facilitating what operators understand to be an airport operating utilising live operational data to inform on-the-day decision making.
By implementing systems to manage queues using the latest technology to track pinch points in real time, this joined-up approach allows airports and their stakeholders (including immigration) to work together to put resources in place to manage issues immediately. While the issues facing the UKBA depend on having the available resources, this approach has already been proven to make a difference.
This collaborative decision making approach is supported by industry body, Airports Council International. Given the implications for the UK in terms of tourism and reputation as a commercial centre, we cannot return to queues of two to three hours for visitors from outside the European Union. We need to act now.
As outlined by Transport Sector Director, Martin Bowman and Mazhar Butt, Head of Service Delivery at Dubai Airports in a recent presentation at Airport Exchange 2011 in Abu Dhabi; operators must embrace a technology eco-system customised to the airport’s specific passenger and operational profile to enable truly optimised next generation airport operations. You can view their presentation below or directly on Slideshare.