The key problems facing Airport COOs right now and how data can fix them

By Alchemmy’s Sam Pamment

A Chief Operating Officer’s (COO) ability to leverage their wealth of data, technology and AI has become a necessity in navigating the complexities of the situation they find themselves in. Without it, they risk compromising their ability to meet capacity needs, safety regulations or fulfil the evolving expectations of passengers. So why does it remain an untapped solution? 

In 2023 the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that traffic reached 94.1% of pre-pandemic levels. 2024’s growth is expected to be even more significant. Below we talk through three examples of how climbing passenger numbers are impacting operations, and how data is vital in solving the problem. 

  • Improving Airport Efficiency. The call for additional capacity and connectivity poses challenges for airports and airlines, who must find innovative, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions to deal with the surge in demand. Failure to do so compromises operational excellence and passenger satisfaction, as terminal conditions decline, border control queues become unmanageable, and flight delays become the standard. Leveraging predictive planning and forecasting software is crucial here. Data modelling of operational, flight and passenger data can monitor, predict, and alert pinch points. Real-time data on passenger flows enables COOs to optimise terminal layouts and allocate resources effectively, therefore crucial in both planning and responding to increasing passenger numbers.  


  • Health and Safety Compliance. Data can be instrumental in enhancing health and safety compliance. COOs need to monitor capacity, ensure regulatory compliance, and respond effectively to emergencies such as natural disasters, security threats, and medical incidents.  Take terminal congestion, getting real-time insight on passenger flows in the hands of terminal managers can enhance their situational awareness and response capabilities, identifying potential safety hazards and enabling proactive measures to mitigate risks and reduce bottlenecks.


  • Net Zero Aviation. Sustainability is increasingly vital for airports, emphasising carbon emission reduction and environmental enhancement. Data analytics aids COOs in monitoring carbon footprints across different scopes (1, 2 and 3), pinpointing areas for enhancement, from aircraft to surface access. Equally, integrating data on sustainable initiatives like Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) quantifies their benefits and facilitates strategic decisions to minimise carbon impact and promote sustainable aviation practices. 


Challenges persist in fostering collaboration across the aviation ecosystem, with data sharing and communication restricted amongst airlines, airports, and service providers. Co-operation is imperative to lay a strong foundational data approach, otherwise isolated solutions can lead to inefficiencies, duplication, and limit effectiveness. At Alchemmy we understand the importance of ensuring those data fundamentals are solidly in place, best preparing you to tackle problems of the future. Our Alchemmy Diagnosis Tool stress-tests your foundations and scores your use of data across the business, helping you understand if, and how, data is limiting your strategic objectives. If you need yours checked or recalibrated, please get in touch. 


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Written by

Sam Smitherman

Published on

36th March 2024


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