Unlocking Airport Potential: ACI’s Guidance on Airport Capacity Declaration

Philippe Villard by Philippe Villard | Jul 26, 2023

By Philippe Villard, Vice President, Economic Policy, ACI-North America, and Franco Sartor, Manager, Policy Analysis, ACI World

In the dynamic world of aviation, efficient airport operations and effective capacity utilization are crucial for ensuring optimal travel experiences. This is especially important in situations where the level of demand significantly exceeds the capacity of airport infrastructure. Currently, more than 360 airports worldwide are facing overdemand for the use of their infrastructure, which has led to the implementation of a schedule facilitation or slot coordination process.

Airport capacity declarations at schedule-facilitated or slot-coordinated airports establish the maximum capacity available for allocation that take into consideration various functional limitations at the respective airport. These limitations may include runway, apron, terminal, airspace, and environmental restrictions. Airport capacity declaration is a complex endeavor. It requires airport operators to play a key role in assessing extensive combinations of specific infrastructure and operational factors involving the entire airport system.

New ACI guidance material

The growing demand for air travel has put immense pressure on airport infrastructure, leading to congestion and operational challenges. In response to these issues, ACI World, with the support of ACI-North America, has produced a comprehensive guidance document, titled “Airport Capacity: Guidance on Airport Capacity Declaration.” The document outlines three key areas:

  • Principles of Capacity Assessment and Declaration
  • Governance, Roles and Responsibilities
  • Capacity Assessment Guidelines
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Principles of Capacity Assessment and Declaration

The first section of the guidance outlines the fundamental principles that are common to the capacity assessment and declaration processes at airports facing capacity constraints. These key principles include: capacity and levels of service, objective methodologies for capacity optimization, efficient use, flexibility, and setting up coordination parameters.

Governance, Roles, and Responsibilities

Effective coordination and collaboration amongst airport stakeholders are essential for successful capacity management. ACI’s guidance highlights the critical role of airports and describes their responsibilities. It further emphasizes the importance of consulting with airport stakeholders and considering their perspectives whenever possible to make the final capacity declaration decision.

Capacity Analysis Guidelines

Local circumstances require different methodologies to be employed. The Capacity Analysis Guidelines provided by ACI serves as a comprehensive toolkit to assist airports in conducting thorough assessments. These guidelines cover various aspects, including runway capacity, apron capacity, terminal capacity, and environmental capacity. The guidance further discusses capacity management and the need for airport operators to take a circumstantial view in determining the airport’s capacity and coordination parameters aligned with long-term strategic objectives.

Promoting capacity enhancements

In an era of ever-increasing air travel demand, efficient capacity and demand analysis are crucial for maintaining high standards of service and operational excellence. The ACI Guidance on Airport Capacity Declaration serves as a valuable resource, equipping airports with the necessary tools and knowledge to optimize their operations.

By considering the principles outlined in the guidance, airports can accurately assess their capacity and implement effective strategies to address congestion and improve the passenger experience.

This paper has been prepared by Mott MacDonald Limited on behalf of ACI. We appreciate the financial and technical contributions of ACI North America and the expert input of the ACI Expert Group on Slots.

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Philippe Villard

Philippe Villard

Vice President, Economic Policy at ACI-North America
Philippe Villard joined Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) in February 2022. His main responsibilities include developing policies and positions regarding the economic well-being of the airport industry, notably on matters of economics, competition, financial regulation and slot policy. Prior to joining ACI-NA, Philippe held positions with increasing responsibilities in air transport economic policy development; airport charges, funding and financing; and slot policy at ACI World, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). He holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), France, and a PhD in Political Science from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
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