COVID-19 has significantly impacted airport terminal operations. Several airport terminal expansion projects have been put on pause as airports lack the financial resources to support these projects due to economic crises. As a result, airports have insufficient space to accommodate flights. COVID-19 has exacerbated this issue with the introduction of new health guidelines. Airports must be cognizant of the impact of their gate allocations to ensure compliance with new health guidelines while accommodating passenger volume. Airports need to transform their typical operations to meet the changing demands and health guidelines while maintaining economic efficiency. Airports can particularly benefit from innovative technology to enhance gate management during COVID-19 and alleviate passenger health and safety concerns.
While some airports have digital solutions in place, many airports still rely on a manual process for gate allocation which is prone to error. Optimal gate assignment must consider gate availability, dynamic flight schedules, airport traffic constraints, airline preferences, and passenger experience. With COVID-19, gate assignment must also factor in new health guidelines and time windows to accommodate cleaning protocols between flights. The incorporation of new rules in gate assignment is integral to instilling passenger confidence and providing assurance of passenger safety. Innovative technology for gate assignment has built-in flexibility to adjust to airport-specific rules as well as accommodate the ever-changing needs of the aviation industry.
The gate assignment process can be automated and streamlined with a robust gate management system. Gate management systems can help airports adapt and implement rules for gate assignment. For example, airports may implement new rules during COVID-19, such as reduced allocation of nearby gates at the same time, to ensure that there is sufficient space for passengers to practice social distancing. Advanced gate management systems have the flexibility to easily incorporate this new rule to create robust gate assignments while taking existing rules into account. Gate management systems can detect and alert airport personnel of gate assignment conflicts and discrepancies in real-time which enhances communication and facilitates a prompt response. Airports can use gate management systems to simulate gate assignments before publishing it to airlines, in order to reduce the risk of conflicts and ultimately increase operational transparency and efficiency.
In addition to automating gate management for passenger travel, gate management systems can streamline cargo operations. Cargo operations have recently spiked as they are vital in facilitating the transport of medical equipment during the global pandemic. The national lockdown has contributed to a boost in e-commerce, further increasing the demand for cargo operations. Airports can utilize gate management systems for efficient stand assignments to accommodate the increased volume of air cargo transport.
Gate management systems are a valuable tool for airports to effectively address the challenges of gate assignment during COVID-19. Gate management systems can also be highly beneficial to airports in dealing with the aftermath of COVID-19, as passenger traffic gradually increases. Gate management systems will equip airports with the necessary tools to efficiently manage gate assignments and easily adapt to the evolving needs of the airport under any circumstance.