Heathrow is one of the world’s busiest airports. With just two runways (there has been public debate about a third runway for years), Heathrow often runs at 100% capacity.
Slots at Heathrow are rare and highly sought after. They can change hands for millions of pounds, andHheathrow slots can even make or break airline merger and acquisition deals.
But now Heathrow has announced that Vietnam Airlines will be moving to the airport from Gatwick. And the move is not due to an existing airline leaving the airport, or because of an M&A, but thanks to the better use of data by the airport.
Strategic Airport Capacity Management.
NATS is the UK’s provider of air traffic control services. According to their website (link below), NATS manages UK air space traffic of some 2.2 million flights and 220 million passengers each year.
In the NATS blog (link below), the organization gives an overview of their ACM package. ACM uses big data and simulation tools to improve airport efficiency by using a variety of datasets and simulations that help air traffic managers to streamline their operations.
As the NATS blog says: “The toolset itself provides Heathrow’s analysts online access to two main areas; the ability to make use of a variety of simulation tools and a large historical dataset. This provides them with the ability to run “what if?” simulations to assess the effects of changing the traffic, infrastructure, weather or operational environment, to understand the overall affect it will have on the airfield. It also allows them to learn from past performance through analysis of key airfield metrics, which have been derived from large historical data sets.
Big data adds capacity and revenue for airports.
ACM is a web-based service that could be used by airports – both hub airports and regional airports – around the world.
In the example of Heathrow, the ACM toolkit enabled the airport to completely review its Runway Scheduling Limits in real time by using simulation tools which allow schedule changes to be assesses within seconds, rather than the minutes or days required by other systems.
According to Routes Online (link below), Vietnam Airlines had wanted to be based at Heathrow since 2011, but lack of capacity meant the airline were based at Gatwick.
Now, thanks to greater data insights at Heathrow leading to increased capacity, the airline is able to relocate its Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City flights.
Passenger demand between the UK and Vietnam increased by almost 400% between 2004 and 2013, and the airline expects the move to Heathrow to be the catalyst for the next stage of growth.
Milanamos and the bigger picture of big data.
The NATS ACM toolkit is a powerful way of applying big data to the specific task of air traffic control and runway management.
ACM is designed to meet the needs of a focused operational task … and the results at London Heathrow the toolkit does an excellent job.
When considering the subject of big data, airport management might also like to consider the bigger picture that massive amounts of data can reveal.
By merging data from sources like regional demographics, mobile phone networks, retailers, airlines, train operators and bus operators, airports can create incredible insights.
These data-driven insights – as with the Heathrow example – can quickly go to the bottom line in terms of increased revenue.
Milanamos PlanetOptim shows airports the bigger picture.
The Milanamos PlanetOptim toolkit has been created to help hub and regional airports to:
– Help airlines plan new routes based on predictive travel patterns.
– Create multimodal transport networks, by co-ordinating the data from various airlines, train and bus companies.
– Plan the revenue from flight operations, and non-flight operations such as retail and parking.
PlanetOptim is used by a number of hub and regional airports, including Aeroports de Paris, Nice Airport, and Afraa (the African Airlines Association).
Reference sites used in this blog post.
NATS UK website.
NATS blog / Heathrow capacity story.
Routes Online / Vietnam Airlines moves to Heathrow