Decisions, decisions

Decisions, decisions

Business Intelligence is the ‘must have’ toolset to boost airport decision-making, efficiency and smooth passenger-focused delivery of services.

As passenger volumes increase faster than new airports or terminals can be built, greater demand is placed on airport management for more complex and timely decisions.

Costs must be controlled as productivity must be improved and security enhanced – all while satisfying increased expectations from passengers for smooth, efficient services to enable a hassle-free journey.

Business Intelligence (BI) tools – such as SITA’s Day of Operations BI – are becoming central to delivery.

They enable extensive data sourcing, understanding of the relationships between data sets, and the analyzing and establishing of context – before identifying areas for change and improvement, and providing the reasoning to underpin decisions.

Value of analysis

Consider how analysis of passenger movement can help improve airport revenues: a busy airport in the US found that 94% of passengers passing through the retail and security areas of the main terminal went directly to the main security checkpoint without engaging with the retail area.

It means that retail locations within the checkpoint area were fighting for just 6% of passenger traffic.

However, deeper analysis of the figures showed that of that 6%, half went to the ‘TSA-Pre’ registration area, and 30% went directly to the airport baggage office.

So just 2% of passenger traffic visited the retail area. Result? The airport is redesigning its whole retail offer to maximize the retail – and therefore, rental – revenue opportunities.


BI depends on the collaboration and co-operation of all stakeholders within the airport, for their mutual benefit.

It leverages the widest range of data sources – including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, video/biometric, airport operational database, common-use systems, baggage systems and customer satisfaction monitoring systems.

And it requires reporting that is wholly device agnostic – accessible as needed, in real time, on smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) will receive strong attention over the next three years, according to SITA’s Airport IT Trends Survey. Its goal is to improve overall efficiency of operations by working with different stakeholders to integrate processes and systems to reduce delays and better manage airport resources.

The priority of CDM programs at airports is to keep to the flight schedule with on-time departures. Just over three-quarters (76%) of airports rate departure management as a high priority for their CDM program.

Closely associated is aircraft turnaround and 53% of airports see this as a high priority function for CDM.


A more enhanced version of CDM – Airport-CDM (A-CDM) – connects the airport into regional air traffic management, airline and other systems.

Today, one-third of airports have some form of local CDM, but just over one in ten airports have implemented it to include air traffic management (ATM) systems.

Within three years 71% of airports will have a localized version of CDM, according to the Airport IT Trends Survey, while 55% will have fully integrated it with ATM systems.

“Although BI has been around for a while, it was focused initially on issues such as revenue optimization,” explains Ron Reed, Director, Business Intelligence Portfolio at SITA.

“But the focus has been shifting as more BI tools are developed and as the pressure on airports increases.

“Airports want to use BI tools to monitor passenger flow, and deploy staff and assets more effectively, including the ability to exploit aircraft movement data. CDM and A-CDM are critical parts of that process.”

Through to 2018, 55% of airports plan BI initiatives using passenger flow data and 43% plan to monitor airport resources and assets, according to the 2015 Airport IT Trends Survey. This fits closely to where airports see the big wins from investing in BI.

The same survey reported that a good majority (68%) of airports expect the most business value to come from more effective tracking of assets and staff, while 49% of airports see high value from using BI to increase dwell time to help maximize retail revenues.

A-CDM leadership

Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) is a joint program between ACI EUROPE, EUROCONTROL, IATA and CANSO that aims to improve the overall efficiency of airport operations by optimizing the use of resources and improving the predictability of events.

Benefits include:

  • For airport operators – improved use of stands/gates, more stable traffic flows and reduced taxi times
  • For airlines – enhanced awareness of the status and location of their aircraft, improved departure sequence information, reduced fuel burn due to runway queues
  • For ATC – improved runway and capacity planning, enhanced flow and capacity management providing better air traffic flow management slot allocation
  • For ground handlers – more accurate in-block times for arrivals, allowing more accurate planning and a more efficient use of resources

In 2015, SITA acquired delair Air Traffic Systems GmbH, a leading provider of A-CDM solutions, based in Braunschweig, Germany.

The acquisition strengthened SITA’s position as the leader in airport management systems by offering an A-CDM product that expands the range of functionalities, such as departure sequencing, de-icing and performance management.

Day of operations

SITA’s Day of Operations BI solution is made accessible via AirportPulse. As an intuitive, airport-wide, BI portal that delivers a dynamic central view of the complete airport ecosystem, AirportPulse enables airport management to keep its finger on the pulse of operations.

It provides real-time visibility of performance against targets, allows airport staff to drill down to analyze and understand the underlying data, analyze the effect of changes and apply lessons learned to boost improvements.

The AirportPulse portal currently provides access to six analytics components to help airport operators enhance each touch point.

All in a day

Available through a dynamic portal – AirportPulse – and giving a central end-to-end view of the complete airport ecosystem, SITA's Day of Operations BI comprises:

  • QueueAnalyzer: to monitor, project and display queue wait times

  • FlowAnalyzer: to understand where passengers wait, walk, dwell and engage

  • FlowPredictor: to forecast passenger flow 24 hours in advance with continuous real-time updates

  • OperationsAnalyzer: to gain complete, end-to-end situational awareness for enhanced airport operations

  • DataExplorer: to rapidly explore, display and analyze data

  • CommonUseAnalyzer: to collect and analyze data from common-use platforms

Monitor, analyze

A growing roster of enhancements provides ample evidence of the power of data to drive improvements.

They include the introduction of real-time flow prediction (FlowPredictor), which has helped a leading European airport’s terminal operations team gain an accurate view of predicted passenger flows.

As a result, the airport experienced a 20% decrease in waiting time at process points and a 10% increase in passenger satisfaction.

There’s also the ability to analyze queues (QueueAnalyzer) for monitoring, measuring and projecting queue wait times at another airport, which resulted in a 3% increase in retail sales.

Added to that is passenger flow monitoring (FlowAnalyzer). Knowing how people were moving throughout the terminal enabled one airport to identify high traffic and dwell locations – resulting in a 4% increase in advertising revenue. (See ‘All in a day’).

Orlando’s double benefit

Orlando International Airport provides another example of how BI linked with a tool such as SITA’s QueueAnalyzer can help reduce traveler stress and deliver more accurate resource planning.

Passengers have enjoyed shorter wait times in recent months with 53% fewer passengers spending more than 15 minutes in line.

The new system has resulted in the double benefit of reducing stress for travelers while also enabling more accurate resource planning by the airport.

John Newsome, IT Director for the Greater Orlando Airport Authority, says: “This is a great example of how measuring performance improves performance.

The technology has helped us to better inform checkpoint resources and process management, reducing wait times; as well as better inform our passengers, reducing the stress of uncertain wait times.

John Newsome, IT Director, Greater Orlando Airport Authority

“The technology has helped us to better inform checkpoint resources and process management, reducing wait times; as well as better inform our passengers, reducing the stress of uncertain wait times.”

Big difference

“In a nutshell,’ says Reed, “SITA’s Day of Operations BI helps an airport improve passenger flow through a better understanding of passenger behavior. By proactively addressing potential bottlenecks, it can minimize disruption and improve throughput.

“And it can save time and improve real-time decision-making through simplified access to relevant insights and understanding.

By proactively addressing potential bottlenecks, it can minimize disruption and improve throughput. And it can save time and improve real-time decision-making through simplified access to relevant insights and understanding.

Ron Reed, Director, Business Intelligence Portfolio, SITA

“The principles behind our BI solutions and the Day of Operations BI portal can be used for every aspect of airport operations. So we’re working on analytics relating to environmental, vehicle flow, baggage, service quality and advanced flows of passengers, staff and mobile assets.

“It’s a rich opportunity that promises to make a strong difference to the effectiveness of airport operations – to the benefit of airports, airlines and, of course, passengers,” he concludes.

Denver's journey


Three years ago, our leaders told me, ‘I don't have data, my team can't get to the data. There's too much data.’ I heard them and championed business intelligence (BI) as a strategic initiative. Today we use BI tools as part of the decision-making process. It's been a real success story.

Robert Kastelitz, Senior VP of Technologies and CIO, Denver International Airport


For more information from Robert Kastelitz, see:

Editor’s recommendations

Subscribe to the Air Transport IT Review