Applications of Micro-simulation Modelling in Airport Planning

16 June 2022
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Originally published in ACP Magazines Shared Horizons Volume 21.


The land-side traffic planning at an airport is a key planning element required for smoother operations of the access and egress network. Generally, in the airport traffic planning process, the forecast is performed for the airside demand and the ancillary facilities are proportionately estimated. In pre-COVID situations, most of the important air terminals in India including Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Bangalore have had issues with access-egress land-side traffic operations as an impact of variations in the airside demand. As we approach post-COVID conditions, the terminals are trying to get back towards normal operations. The Terminal Demand Estimation and Planning step has regained its importance in post-COVID situations as there is lot of demand uncertainty associated with passenger growth. This presents the opportunity to develop innovative estimation and supply planning processes for airports in the post-COVID scenario.

Need of Advance Planning Tools—Mandatory not Optional 

The more time invested in planning and designing with the use of advanced tools, the fewer challenges the project faces not only during the execution but also during the operation stage deriving the maximum benefit from the cost spent on the project. The historic data before the COVID-19 pandemic evidenced of rapid growth in passenger demand. If the post-COVID situation recovers as expected, then India is expected to overtake China and the United States as the world’s third-largest air passenger market in the next ten years, by 2030, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) stated in IAI, Oct 2021 report. This will create immense pressure on airport operators to re-consider the ability of the available infrastructure and focus on terminal capacity enhancement, process improvements, upgraded revenue models, and offering better services.

COVID-19 has brought a change in how people must behave at public places and although the situation will normalise, some of the new behaviours will become “the new normal.” Estimating the impact of such alterations in behaviour on the capacity and operational efficiencies of the existing infrastructure is crucial. As the traveling behaviour gets more dynamic, it is essential to examine the role of existing standard practises for efficient operation of interior terminal areas and land-side facilities of the airports. In other words, there is a need of conscious and comprehensive efforts in design and planning of the airports for the post-pandemic scenario. It will have a substantial influence on major capital investment decisions. This may be assessed by simulations and modeling tools to arrive at the more realistic estimates.

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