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19 operator. Some effects are obvious, whereas others are fre- Physical Infrastructure Costs quently overlooked. The following fiscal requirements were noted: In addition to any system costs incurred in common use, air- port operators must account for costs of physical infrastruc- · Accounting efficiency, ture that an airline traditionally installs to facilitate the use of · Usage fee calculations, gates. One major cost that tends to be overlooked is jet or · Physical infrastructure costs, and loading bridges. At many airports, it is the airlines that own · Capital planning. the loading bridges, not the airports. Once a gate is converted to common use, the airport operator typically assumes own- ership of the jet bridge. This could entail purchasing new jet Accounting Efficiency bridges or purchasing the existing jet bridges from the cur- rent carriers. One hidden risk of such a purchase is that a jet Common use has an immediate impact on the accounting ef- bridge that was acceptable for use before common use im- ficiency of an airport. As a result of the more efficient use of plementation may become "unusable" after the common use existing space, the airport operator can more closely monitor implementation. the use of airport facilities. This can equal better accounting of enplanement fees, as well as other fees charged to airlines. Airport operators are establishing new charging models With the use of tools such as an operational database, the resulting from common use implementation, such as the cost airport operator can get an earlier look at the data needed to of parking aircraft. Typically, once a gate is converted to calculate fees charged to an airline. Flight information data, common use, on-gate parking may become a nonlegitimate combined with gate utilization, provide the airport operator use of the gate, except where the gate is not needed for nor- with real-time data and allows for closer monitoring of the mal operations. If a flight needs to use the gate for enplaning fees reported by airlines. or deplaning, then the aircraft parked at the gate must be moved. Although the movement of the aircraft is the airline's Airport operators can also "load-balance" their airport, responsibility, the actual space used to park the aircraft may thus creating a friendlier environment for passengers. In an need to be accounted for in the charges to the airline. exclusive use airport, there are certain times of day when all carriers in a geographically close area have peak activity. In a common use airport, the airport can spread that peak activ- Capital Planning ity around to different areas of the terminals, thus allowing for better passenger flow through the airport. Finally, airport operators noted that the implementation of common use requires careful planning for the future. The air- port operator is able to defer and possibly reduce capital Usage Fee Calculations expenditures to build additional gates, concourses, or termi- nals. Airport traffic continues to increase, in most cases, Airport operators track the actual usage of gate and ticket therefore it is improbable to assert that common use will pre- counter assignments and charge airlines accordingly. When vent construction expenditures. The flexibility and efficiency an agent logs into the common use system, or when the air- of common use enable the airport operator to plan better for port operator uses gate management, data are collected that growth, allowing for the management of landing fees, rates give a clear picture of when a gate or counter is occupied, and and charges, and other fees that increase owing to increased when it is not. The result is accurate charges to an airline for capital expenditures. This flexibility allows the airport oper- its specific use. ator to plan future changes, utilize capital funds differently, or simply defer expenditures until absolutely necessary. The rates and charges for a common use airport become much more focused to the exact utilization of the airport, In the event that land is not available for expansion, the rather than simply charging an airline for a gate lease. This airport operator is able to derive maximum utilization of level of charging compels the airport operator to be more existing physical resources through implementation of diligent in tracking an airline's actual use of the airport's common use systems. Airport operators must also consider facilities than under a non-common use strategy. The airport the planning for, and funding of, replacement of assets that operator adjusts the existing financial models to account for were not considered before. This includes CUTE systems, the more detailed billing, as well as for data collected for CUSS kiosks, passenger loading bridges, baggage sys- backup of the billing process. Depending on the specific rea- tems, etc. sons at each airport, the airport operator determines how to charge, or if to charge, for the common use systems imple- mented at the airport. If the airport operator chooses to embed MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT the common use operational costs into the rates and charges, the need for detailed billing is diminished, and is necessary Airport operators noted the increase in requirements for only for the operations of signatory and itinerant airlines. maintaining and supporting existing and new items resulting
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20 from the common use implementation. The following areas also requires diversity in support staff. The airport operator found for this report included: must consider database administrators, system administra- tors, equipment maintenance staff, and other technologists to · New equipment maintenance, maintain the many different aspects of the system. · Technology support, and · Risk considerations. The airport operator also must consider the size of the staff required to provide the necessary service-level agree- ments to support flight operations. This may include 24-7 New Equipment Maintenance support, quick response times, and high availability. Net- work redundancy and availability also need to be factored Airport operators must be ready to maintain equipment that into the technology support functions. Vendor selection is they may not have had to maintain previously. Jet bridges, critical to technology support. When an airport operator for example, become the airport's responsibility. The airport chooses a common use vendor to supply and install its com- operator must either have the staff qualified to maintain jet mon use technology, the airport operator must also evaluate bridges or contract with a vendor that can provide those ser- the vendor's ability to provide staff support and training. It vices. Maintenance of equipment such as jet bridges and has been indicated through interviews with airlines and air- common use systems that are needed to operate an airline re- ports that some vendors have difficulty providing training for quires high availability of personnel to do the work. Airport the local support staff, and that knowledge gained at one site operators must consider service-level agreements for main- is not transferred effectively to other support sites. tenance and response times that may not currently be in- cluded in existing operations. Ticket and gate counters may also require additional Risk Considerations maintenance. If an airport does not already own the ticket and As with any project, it is important for airports to consider gate counters, they will have to add these areas to their main- the risks involved in moving along the common use contin- tenance rotation and be prepared to repair any damage. If an uum. Because common use affects so many areas of an air- airport operator chooses to remodel the counters, it needs to port's operations, there are many types of risks associated keep in mind the access of equipment and the maintainabil- with implementing common use that need to be considered. ity of the counters themselves. For example, such risks can include labor contracts, impacts on other tenants, security, passenger push-back, and airline Technology Support acceptance, to name a few. Airports should also consider the impact on other airline operations that could result if one air- Technology support is also required in a common use airport. line's service is delayed and affects the airport operator's Whether an airport operator hires a third party to perform ability to assign gates to other airlines. The airport operator technology support, or hires its own support staff, the need must analyze these potential risks, determine the likelihood for a trained tech-support staff increases tremendously in a that any of them could become an issue, and then decide common use environment. The diversity in types of systems whether or not it is willing to accept these risks.