Making Space for Recovery: the ACI Static Capacity Tool

Jean-Sebastien Pard by Jean-Sebastien Pard | Sep 7, 2021

Air travel is gradually showing signs of recovery in some parts of the world as local travel restrictions are being lifted and multiple types of vaccines are being rolled out. As air travel demand increases, airport infrastructure and services will reopen and additional processes may also need to be implemented in terminals to maintain physical distancing, with an impact on passenger throughput.

As such, it will be paramount for airports to evaluate any additional space or queuing requirements needed as a result of COVID-19 physical distancing measures and the impact of additional process points to validate health requirements, as mandated by governments.

ACI Static Capacity tool

For these reasons, ACI World has worked with World Business Partner Redwater Consulting Group to develop the ACI Static Capacity Tool which assists airport operators in terminal planning to increase capacity as the global recovery from the pandemic continues.

The tool is user friendly and not complex, allowing non-technical airport employees to make use of the model through simple inputs. It helps airports to:

  • Evaluate the number of process points and equipment needed throughout the airport passenger journey (arrivals and departures).
  • Assess queue lengths, queue time and breaking points with a particular focus on physical distancing.
  • Check performance of existing operations, assess how changes to processors will impact performance.
  • Understand the requirements of new infrastructure.

ACI has developed a short demonstration. Although the video highlights mainly the passenger check-in area and the security screening checkpoint – all the passenger steps can be evaluated based on the airport’s needs. We welcome your interest and questions at

Conducting a thorough analysis of airport capacity

The ACI Static Capacity Tool is one resources to help airport operators to conduct thorough analyses of their available capacity. Such analyses should be conducted on a regular basis and updated whenever airport facilities and services are being recommissioned, when significant variations in capacity are expected, when there are changes in the patterns of demand, or when new operational processes impacting capacity are being implemented.

Airport operators need to thoroughly analyze the impact of additional processes related to COVID-19 mitigation on available capacity. For terminal operations, the need to maintain physical distancing during initial phases of recovery may impact passenger throughput capacity, with a ripple effect on other systems, including aircraft parking stands and airfield operations. Experience has shown that the physical distancing requirements imposed by health regulations as well as the increased number of checks and document controls required at check-in or prior to boarding can have a significant impact in processing times.

There has been widespread anecdotal evidence that the additional documents and health checks are causing bottlenecks leading to delays at airports. Preliminary data collected confirms this to be the case with an additional average of 2½ times longer for international departures, and 3 ½ times longer for international arrivals.

To mitigate these potential delays, airports and their relevant stakeholders have taken various measures to minimize average wait times including separate tracks for vaccinated vs. non-vaccinated passengers, and checking passengers’ health credentials during their wait times while they are queuing for check-in.

More than ever, in order to understand the full impact of COVID-19 mitigation measures, cross organization input and consultation with relevant stakeholders involved in daily operations, such as air traffic control, aircraft operators and ground services, is essential.

Jean-Sebastien Pard

Jean-Sebastien Pard

Senior Manager, Facilitation, Passenger Services and Operations, ACI World
Jean-Sebastien provides guidance and support to the airport community on a wide range of activities linked to the processing and clearance of aircraft, people, and goods. He also leads the development of best practices, implementation strategies, and initiatives in the areas of passenger process improvements and simplified passenger travel solutions.
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