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CHAPTER 2 Common Use as Applied Throughout the Industry It is difficult to talk about common use without considering common use as a technology solution. The industry today is filled with acronyms that force the association of common use and technology, such as CUTE (Common-Use Terminal Equipment), CUSS (Common-Use Self Service), and CUPPS (Common-Use Passenger Processing Systems). Common use is a broad topic that covers many areas of the airport and affects airport and airline operations, leases, and facilities, to name a few. It is important to understand the current trends and applications at airports within the United States with respect to common use. These trends are affected by the overall trends in the avia- tion industry. To gain a good view of the overall trends in the industry, the research team inter- viewed airports in Canada and used research material gathered from European airports. Over the past 10 years, the aviation industry has seen dramatic volatility, including a passenger down- turn in 2001/2002, escalation of jet fuel prices in 2007/2008, and a decrease in passenger demand because of the economic downturn in 2008/2009. With each change in the market, the effect on airport facilities has been clear--lower traffic levels and reduced airline schedules which in turn reduce the need for capital construction projects. Prior to 2001, and between 2002 and 2007, airport capacity and airport capacity planning were high priorities. Increased passenger counts at most major U.S. airports, along with increased flight activity, were creating a demand for increased passenger facilities. During these times, construction of new gates, concourses, and terminals were considered. It was also during these times that com- mon use at U.S. airports began to be considered. Many U.S. airport operators were aware of the use of common use outside of the United States, and these strategies were starting to be considered at more U.S. airports. Airports such as Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, JFK Terminal 4 (shown in Figure 2-1), Toronto Pearson International Airport, and Vancouver International Air- port were esteemed as examples of common use in North America. Airports that implemented common use began implementing at limited locations, usually driven by international air traffic, and then began considering implementing common use at domestic gates and terminals. Although the main reason for these trends tended to be accommodating the growth of airlines while reducing, or at least deferring, capital costs, the volatility of the industry caused a shift in thinking. When jet fuel prices surpassed $180 per barrel in the summer of 2008, many airlines took immediate actions to reduce costs, reduce flight schedules, and reduce service. Some air- lines went out of business, while others filed for bankruptcy. These changes caused the industry to contract, which in turn affected the airports and their abilities to grow. Now, rather than plan- ning for increased traffic, airport operators were dealing with double-digit percent declines in passenger traffic. Some airports lost airlines, either because airlines went out of business or because of reallocation of service to different markets. Many airport operators were seeking ways to reduce expenses, while maintaining the high level of customer service their travelers had come 7
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8 Reference Guide on Understanding Common Use at Airports Figure 2-1. JFK--Terminal 4. to expect. Consideration was given to how airports could operate most efficiently, which, in some cases, meant shutting down portions of the airport, while still maintaining concession revenues. Airlines and airport operators are now looking at common use in view of this changing eco- nomic environment. Rather than looking at common use to help with the growth of passenger traffic, airlines and airport operators must consider how, or if, common use can help in light of the current reduction in passenger traffic. All of this information is important in understanding the current state of the industry, and in helping decision making about whether or not to pur- sue common use at an airport. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), airlines operating in the U.S. region are the only airlines that have been able to shrink capacity in line with the decrease in demand and are currently forecast to turn a small profit in 2009 (IATA, 2009). The Air Transport Association (ATA) reports that the total number of passengers travelling on U.S. airlines con- tinues to decline (ATA, 2009). The FAA forecasts that the overall mark of one billion passengers is now at 2021, rather than 2016 as forecast in 2008 (FAA, 2009a). The FAA is also interested in common-use facilities in relation to the FAA's NextGen imple- mentation plan. On the NextGen website, NextGen is defined as follows: The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is a transformation of the National Airspace System (NAS), including our national system of airports, using 21st century technologies to ensure future safety, capacity and environmental needs are met--FAA, 2009b. In particular, during the landing, taxi, and arrival phases of the NextGen plan, there is a need to provide aircraft with gate assignments and how optimal use of gates and airport facilities will affect the efficient flow of traffic into and out of ramp areas. How common use is applied in the current environment is discussed in the following sections: · U.S. Applications (General) · U.S. Airport Applications (Considerations)