Free «Challenges Facing Airports» Essay Sample

Challenges Facing Airports

Well-functioning airport systems are important for the country participating in the international trade. It means that order in for a country to be successful in trade, its airports should be large enough to accommodate big groups of passengers. Airports provide infrastructures and facilities that carry out different services required to access both international and national air transportation systems. However, there are many challenges that airports are facing across the world. One of the most prominent among them is moving large group of people through the airport terminals. Slow movement of people along the terminals results in congestion and delays. This paper discusses fast and efficient ways to move a large group of people through the airport terminals. It will also explain facilities that are put in place in order to move passengers quickly. It will also explain why some concepts are effective, while others are failing.

Passenger flow in the airport terminals should be smooth and flexible. Therefore, any scheme of moving large group of people in and out of the terminal should follow design principles in order to be effective. The concourses that are used should be as straight and short as possible (Edwards, 2005). The disabled people should be capable of using the route safely and comfortably. The concept should also be flexible when it comes to accommodating changes. It means that, if there is an improvement in technology, the system should still be useful. In addition, changes can also be made in the time of emergency.

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The principal reason airport terminals are multi-level is to ensure that there is smooth movement of baggage (Edwards, 2005). The passenger load factor, which is the flow of passengers due to the number, size and frequency of airplanes, determines the level of baggage handling that is required. Fast movement of bags means that the passengers will not be waiting for their luggage. Therefore, one way to move passengers quickly in the airport terminals is by installing fully automated baggage-handling systems. Normally, the airport authority is responsible for providing this service for different airline companies. However, sometimes private contractors can offer their services.

The need to automate and improve the baggage-handling system was due to the congestion in the airport terminals that was brought about by slow movement of luggage in an out of the plane (Bellioti et al., 2010). With a fully automated system, passengers’ bags can move fast, therefore, delays can be avoided. Sometimes, this system can break down due to the mechanical problem or power supply. This issue can cause airport operations to remain at standstill. However, big airports, such as Heathrow or Dallas, just to mention a few, were designed with a bypass capability that allows the handling of baggage manually in case of emergency.

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The concept of fully automated baggage systems is successful compared to other conventional baggage systems due to many advantages. The first advantage is that it has reduced the manpower that is required to distribute the passengers’ bags. The system is very efficient in term of reliability, flexibility, and maintainability. Through this system, luggage can move at a speed of 20mph and reduce delays in the terminals (Landrum & Brown et al., 2010).

The use of a moving sidewalk is also common in the modern airports. Such travelators are moving walkways that carry passengers from one point to another. They consist of the decks of moving pavements that move at around the speed of walking. They are wide enough to allow two passengers with their trolleys to stand side by side and are used to link different terminals in the airport (Rodrigue, 2013). The wide space provided by this system ensures that passengers move smoothly from one point to another. Some of the airports that have embraced this technology are Gandhi International Airport in India, and Manchester Airport. This system helps to move a large group of people through the airport. Therefore, congestion in the terminals is reduced. International airports that are using this system can now move many passengers quickly and efficiently through the terminals. They are efficient in moving people and luggage for a short distance of less than 1200 meters.

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On the other hand, if passengers are required to move for a longer distance, then faster forms of passenger movement are required. A great invention, such as a personal rapid transit (PRT), is effective in moving people for more than 1.2 km. It consists of different micro-transportation methods - form minibus, light rail to air cushioned trains. Minibuses are effective for carrying small group of passengers of about 15 people. Light rail systems, on the other hand, are effective for carrying about 300 people (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 1971). They are the best option for carrying passengers from big aircrafts.

Conventional methods of moving passengers around the airport terminals were not successful due to the several reasons. First, most of them were not flexible. Therefore, they could not accommodate changes. Thus, it was difficult to plan for such emergencies as power blackout or system failure (Elias, 2009). Most of the old choices were not straight, which obstructed passengers while they were walking. Hence, they were not effective for moving large group of people due to the cross-flows. Some other systems, such as passengers processing facilities, were not effective as well. They required services that are currently provided around the terminal building, such as public/private vehicle drop-off and curbside to be relocated to the facilities that are located further away from the terminals. Hence, the concept was not the best for the quick and efficient movement of people.

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To sum up, there are several concepts that are developed in order to move people quickly and efficiently in the airport terminals. Among them are travelators, loading bridges, fully automated baggage, and personal rapid transit, to name just a few. These concepts are helpful for moving large groups of people around the airport. Most big airports are already making use of these technologies. They include London Heathrow Airport, Beijing International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and many others. These airports handle hundreds of thousands of passengers every day. Therefore, there is a need of applying concepts that will help management to reduce congestion. Most traditional methods failed, because they were not suitable for the large crowds. Some had long concourse routes and cross-flows of passengers. Busy airports that have embraced modern terminal concepts have recorded significant drop in congestion within their terminals.