DEFINING THE CHALLENGES
A simplistic analysis of modern aviation might suggest
that airlines and airports operate under different sets of
principles, assumptions and priorities. Airlines, as private
sector organizations operating in a highly competitive
and low-margin market, have developed strengths in
network operations, cost controls, fleet and logistics
planning, and flexible operational planning. On the
other hand, airlines generally operate as tenants in their
networks, resulting in underdeveloped experience in
facilities maintenance or management, fixed asset life
cycle planning, or infrastructure asset management.
Conversely, airports are generally public organizations,
accountable to a variety of stakeholders and act as a
driving force in the local and regional economies in
which they operate. Because of this, they must maintain
a long-term perspective. Not surprisingly, airports have
developed the ability to conduct capital improvement
and airport master planning; however, long-range
planning typically does not incorporate facility or asset
management planning. Because of this and the nature
of fixed assets and capital investment time frames,
airports generally are unable to act with agility and
Despite their differences, airports and airlines value
predictability, balance and agility. Whether planning
for the short or long term, both entities are focused on
achieving operational continuity and beneficial expansion
for their shared customers, based on sound capital
investments and operational expenses.
MEETING THE CHALLENGES
Since the first commercial flight, airlines and airports
have relied on attracting passengers and cargo to create
revenue. Though the modern airport business model has
evolved, continuing to reduce costs and minimize waste
will keep both parties fiscally healthy and competitive.
The most successful American airports and airlines
will be those that recognize how to leverage the
strength of partnerships to provide better customer
service, experience and value. Common goals include
the development and implementation of improved
technologies, enhanced security systems and the
increased reliability of all assets, both fixed and fleet.
Clear communication, full cooperation and transparency
are required to make these goals reality.
Transforming traditional master planning methodologies
and considering constraints, resources, risks and
opportunities will yield realistic long-term growth for
airports and airlines. The inclusion of clearly defined
triggers for growth will allow new opportunities,
anticipated and unexpected, to be incorporated.
Additionally, anticipating the operational costs of facility
After decades of insufficient spending on infrastructure and technology, many of America’s airports
require renovation, expansion or full replacement. As the aviation industry continues to age, airlines
and airports will need to work together to cost-effectively provide better and more efficient services
to growing passenger numbers.
COMBINED FLIGHT PLAN
Partnering to Solve New Demands
By Yvonne Bilshausen and J. Somer Shindler, United Airlines