London Luton: We are reducing congestion on the apron

London Luton Airport has released a report on how it is reducing congestion on the apron.

The report, written by Liam Bolger and the ground operations team at the London airport, explains how the airport deploys an industry-leading initiative to help airlines reduce delays on the ground.

London Luton’s report can be read below.

While waiting to board your flight or looking out from the terminal onto the airside area, it’s likely you’ll have spotted the assortment of equipment used by your airline’s ground handling teams, and you may well have wondered what all this stuff is.

To get each aircraft ready for an efficient and safe departure, it needs to be serviced between flights. There’s just a small window of time, typically 30-40 minutes to sort the big tasks like refuelling, maintenance and loading baggage, but also the little things that are important and make for a comfortable flight like food and drink, and on-board magazines for example.

As you can imagine, getting the aircraft ready requires a lot of equipment and that’s without the steps needed to help you to board your plane.

Until 2014, a number of different ground handling companies at London Luton Airport each operated and stored their own equipment individually. This is the standard procedure at most airports.

However, working in this way was becoming cumbersome, with over 600 assets on each aircraft stand. Equipment of one handler might block access to the equipment of another, with little benefit to the large number of items of the same equipment types being kept on the same stand.

Put simply, the aircraft boarding area was a mess and we knew  we could make operations better.

So we put in place an industry-first initiative to help change all this. All ground handling equipment at LLA is now collectively pooled. The new system, launched with ground handling companies Menzies and Swissport and equipment provider TCR, benefits airlines, ground handlers and passengers alike.

Each stand now contains a single set of brand new, state-of-the-art equipment, including aircraft steps, ground power units and belt loaders along with other items such as cones and passenger guidance.

Ground-handling is one of those elements of your airport experience, that you rightly shouldn’t be aware of or have to think about. But within the industry, the initiative is drawing much attention from airports globally, with the potential to revolutionise airside operations, reducing congestion and delays.

We’re delighted with the results. The amount of equipment has been reduced by 40% and delays caused by issues with ground equipment have been cut by as much as 76%.

With ground handling items always available when aircraft arrive, efficient airside operations is a really important way to make sure travellers have a smooth journey. It’s a game-changer in the ground handling industry – so why not see if you can spot our new equipment the next time you take a flight from LLA?”