Brussels Airport: smoother transitions thanks to the AOP

For the past five years, Brussels Airport has been leading a European project aimed at developing and optimising an Airport Operations Plan (AOP) at airports. The basic concept of this AOP has been defined by SESAR, a public-private partnership of the European Commission in charge of optimising the European sky. The objective of the AOP is to develop data-driven forecasts to improve processes and the passenger experience at the airport site. Thanks to data, this AOP makes it possible to anticipate and respond even better to problems, in advance and in daily operations, ensuring an even more efficient and comfortable experience for passengers.

In 2017, Brussels Airport joined forces with eleven other airport managers and two air traffic control services, including skeyes, to develop a PDO at each airport. Since September 2018, this consortium has also benefited from European subsidies for this project, of which Zaventem is the leader. This project was successfully completed at the end of 2023. “With the Airport Operations Plan, the entire passenger journey, from the journey to the airport to boarding, is even smoother thanks to the use of big data and artificial intelligence. Thanks to the AOP, we can better anticipate unusual operations, whether they are peaks in affluence or winter weather conditions, and intervene more quickly to minimise the impact on our passengers and staff,” explains Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport.

Over the past few years, Brussels Airport has collected a lot of data. Data such as peak and off-peak periods at the airport, the time it takes passengers to pass through security and others, as well as data on specific situations, such as weather conditions. The AOP brings all this information together in a computer model. This data can then be leveraged by algorithms and artificial intelligence to make predictions for the future.

Based on this information, APOC, the Airport Operations Centre that brings together the operational partners, can take the necessary measures to optimize the passenger experience as well as ad hoc to better respond to unforeseen circumstances. Four different processes are analyzed: Passengers’ journey through the airport, from security to passport control to the boarding gate; baggage journeys from check-in to loading onto the aircraft; the process of handling aircraft, until they are ready for take-off; and the accessibility of the airport, with a focus on traffic, public transport and parking capacity.

It is therefore an essential tool not only for airports that need to implement it, but also for all airports. This is why Brussels Airport is sharing its expertise with other airports through its subsidiary Airport Intelligence. The first PDO project that received European support is now closed, but there will of course be a follow-up project with a view to further developing the PDO in addition to ensuring its daily use. Brussels Airport has once again joined forces with a consortium of 18 airports, one air traffic controller and Eurocontrol, and submitted a new project application.

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