Monday, 27 July 2020

Connect and Collaborate to Disrupt Disruptions

I am inviting you to join me on 4 August during Virtual OPS 2020 organised by IBS Software when I will be talking about how we can better connect and collaborate to disrupt both strategic and operational disruptions at times of extreme uncertainty and growing indebtedness.

Here are some highlights.

The profile of operational disruptions is changing. This time they are dominated by frequent strategic adjustments resulting in unknown, yet avoidable losses generated by slow and often less than appropriate response to changes in market demand. So far, the way we used to connect and collaborate to reduce disruptions haven't been successful and this needs to change. 

The question is, how can we reinvent collaboration and become the co-creators of the new connected, resilient organisation where strategy and operations become closely linked? What is the role of people and technology in making this happen?


You can register at http://ops2020.ibsplc.com/





Wednesday, 15 July 2020

COVID Caused Losses Are Showing Up - A Call For Getting Closer To Reality

It has been just announced that Delta Air Lines posted a $5.7 billion net loss in the 2020 second quarter, and is cancelling 500 out of 1000 planned daily departures in August.

We cannot condemn the airline bravery and optimism at these critical times, but can question if decisions based on comprehensive real-time strategic feedback, yet to become a practice, could have reduced these losses?

Big unexpected losses happen and will be happening around the industry not just because of unpredictability of market demand, but because of the reliance on methods for planning and measuring airline performance set in the 1950s, unsuitable for managing complex organisations at times of extreme uncertainty.

It takes only a little shift in habitual thinking to understand that getting the strategic feedback based on the near real time insights is the only way to keep adapting to the new circumstances before surprising losses show up in the profit and loss statements.

Things change faster than ever and we need to find ways to align with reality faster than ever.


Sunday, 14 June 2020

The Leadership Challenge: How To Survive Indebtedness, The Next Pandemic Hurdle For Airlines

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think and act anew”     -Abraham Lincoln

Only a few months ago airlines stepped into 2020 ready to be bigger and better than their competitors, buy more fuel efficient aircraft, fly more - even to busiest airports, carry more passengers with more seats in the cabin, increase retail revenue to compensate for higher costs of their operation, and hope for a more profitable year ahead. No one could have imagined that only a few months later the COVID pandemic would bring the system to a halt and that the magnitude of the current crisis would be set to leave a big mark on the future of air travel.

“A tough future is ahead of us”, said IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac recently, and continued: “Containing COVID-19 and surviving the financial shock is just the first hurdle. Post-pandemic control measures will make operations more costly. After surviving the crisis, recovering to financial health will be the next challenge for many airlines… Paying off the debt owed to governments and private lenders will mean that the crisis will last a lot longer than the time it takes for passenger demand to recover.”

There are many signals to suggest that recovery will be slow and may take unexpected turns and twists for many airlines. Unpredictable market conditions will inevitably cause problems with planning at all stages, from deciding which routes to fly, to costing, pricing, and allocation of resources. Frequent disruptions caused by rescheduling, flight delays, and cancellation will become sources of unforeseen losses. Preventing and minimising the negative impact of changes while learning through this trial-and-error phase will be crucial for airline survival.

The way we used to plan and make decisions will no longer work. Top down planning without insightful operational feedback will lead to more disruptions, more dissatisfied passengers, and unexplainable rise in costs. This time, there will be no historical references to rely on. Replacing them with unfounded intuitive predictions will lead to more failures and rise in indebtedness. And this has to change.

Managing through crisis means managing through disruptions, and seeing them as an opportunity for learning and validating our plans and strategies. Disruptions bring authenticity to decision making, they point to things in need of improvement and with the right technique, enable insights into interactions between data, people, and processes that can make these improvements possible and measurable.

Preparing airlines for the age of growing uncertainty and disruptiveness has been my passion for many years. Using my diverse and relevant experience across the industry, key insights and expertise, I have created and have been using a method and technique to equip leaders, regardless of their hierarchical rank, with knowledge and experience necessary to cope with disruptions of any scale. The method enables them to make informed decisions in hard to manage situations, to adapt, and make their airline more resilient to future challenges.

I couldn’t have predicted the vastness of the current crisis, but found the principles, practicality, and ease of implementation of this method useful to support airline endeavours to expand, conscious about ongoing risks, reduce debts, and find new ways to get out of crises more quickly while harnessing human values.

Making some progress in this situation requires a new approach to planning and decision making where deep insights in what is happening on the operational side become essential for creation of adaptive strategies.

This relies on cross-functional interactions that transcend organisational divisions and provide answers to currently unanswerable questions - the work supported by the OpportunityScanning technique and controlled focus. Here are some of the key aspects of this technique:

Data and insights
To make sense of data and human interactions, data need to be accessed near real time when it is possible to get insights into the origins of problems. As Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO said, “it is not just seeing these things, but taking action. Data is only useful if you in real time or near real time can predict something better, can automate something better, can gain an insight - those are the outcomes that drive your data. That's the true measure of your success with data.”
Relational metrics
Introduction of relational and actionable metrics is crucial for making necessary adjustments and for measuring progress. This enhances the system view of business that looks more like a flexible learning network that needs constant fine tuning and occasional upgrades to keep up with changes in the operational environment. Introducing non-linear measures of cost and quality respecting their true nature becomes crucial for understanding what needs to improve.
Cross-functional meetups
These are collaborative events where the same operational problems were looked at from different organisational perspectives followed by prioritised actions.
Action maps
What makes it all actionable are the relational action maps created during the cross-functional meetups.

This constant moving back and forth between strategy and operations is one of the key things that distinguished Southwest, the most successful airline in history from other airlines. Their founder and former CEO Herb Kelleher explained: “At a time when everything is created, deployed, and measured in real time, strategy and execution are one. Sequential thinking, which requires putting strategy first and execution second, is becoming more and more outdated, even irrelevant. Today’s business relies on a constant back and forth between the two”.

This practice has been instilled in Southwest from early days. Traditional airlines, however, have to act quickly to turn things around, and leaders and executives need a very rapid training in this field.

It couldn’t be done before because of the rigid organisations, information, and management structures shaped by 50+ years old industry standards and the existing business and education systems. The result: anything that is out of sequential views and measures is taken out of consideration including understanding and managing cost and revenue. The reason behind this is the lack of transdisciplinary knowledge based on the real-life experience - vital for making decisions that benefit the entire organisation. The new approach with previously described basics offers these opportunities through collaborative learning during earlier mentioned meet-ups and other practices described in my book and other published work.

So, we now have a historic opportunity to start afresh and act anew, to do things that will ensure a more sustainable future for the aviation industry.

I am here to support leaders to develop approaches and tools that will not only help them navigate their airlines through the current ever-changing situation, but also help with building new foundations which will allow for more astute leadership based on an integrative view of their business, making airlines ready for the next evolutionary step.

Over the next few months, I will be sharing my 7 insights into must-do changes in traditional management that stand in the way to creating adaptable strategies, to get ready to face the world of accelerating changes with more certainty. I will be providing leaders with a unique opportunity to discuss their starting points, their vision for the future and the steps they need to take to get there whilst avoiding the well-trodden, well-documented pitfalls. I look forward to connecting with as many of you as possible - further information to follow soon!
   



If you are interested to book a slot for my customised consulting with guidance on how to implement OpportunityScanning technique into your organisation, you can contact me at jasenka@astuteaviation.com
#airlineleaders #managingreality #strategicinsights #airlinefuture

Thursday, 28 May 2020

The work is art. The job is not necessarily the work.

I wonder how many of us misunderstand the word art and how liberating it can be to know that we can all become artists and creators in anything we do. Here are some Seth’s quotes that may change the way we do things for the better:

‘An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo.

Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn't matter. The intent does.

Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.

The job is what you do when you are told what to do.

Someone can always do your job a little better or faster or cheaper than you can.

The job might be difficult, it might require skill, but it's a job.

The job is not the work.

Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people.

I call the process of doing your art 'the work’. It's possible to have a job and do the work, too. In fact, that's how you become a linchpin.’
                                                                                         Seth Godin, "Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?"

Monday, 4 May 2020

Is It an Organisation or Organism You Work With?

I like Seth's blogs. He brings freshness and simplicity in explaining the complex things, just like in his latest post 'What kind of org?': "Maybe you work with an organization. They have systems and charts and boxes. But the very nature of an organization is that someone developed it, figured it out and has to approve its changes. After all, it’s organized. Perhaps you work with an organism instead. An organism constantly changes. The cells develop, die and are replaced. It adapts to the current environment or goes away. If you engage with a culture, if you’re part of an organism, you’ll do better understanding the system that it lives in. The org chart is insufficient. And of course, organisms tend to be more resilient than organizations." To better understand the system we are in, and make our organisation more resilient we need to change the way we see it, to understand the flow of work, and get the sense of connectedness between data, people, and processes. The process is not difficult to implement and will be the key to making progress once airlines restart the operations. Will blog more about it – stay tuned.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Preparing For The Next Step: Why Things Go Wrong?

I thought that the following quote from my book ‘Beyond Airline Disruptions – Thinking and Managing Anew’ can inspire existing and aspiring leaders, in the midst of immense difficulties, to start thinking anew and get better prepared for the fresh start in a less complex but more uncertain world. Before we find out more about the next steps, let’s first see why things go wrong and what needs to improve?
"When we make plans, we expect that most things will respond in a linear way, that more input will get us more output. If we want more passengers, we add more flights, fly to more airports (even if overcongested), squeeze more seats into the plane, pack more people in. We also want to be bigger and stronger than our competitors. The bigger we become, the more we are inclined to ignore the critical resource limitations and issues of quality.
In real life, however, most things don’t respond in a linear way (quality and cost in particular). This is why we fail to notice the critical point beyond which the quality of outcome turns downwards. From that point on, adding more flights or having more passengers only make things worse. This happens whenever the traditional way of thinking and doing makes us ignorant to what is happening now, when we are unable to understand early signals of this decline and are deluded by the occasional rise in profit. In this way, we unknowingly increase complexity and are later surprised by unexplainable losses, unforeseen disruptions and loss of reputation.
The chart below shows dependences between growth, quality of outcome, money and time. These relationships are essential for understanding the current state of business and its future prospects.
Why is it so easy to pass the turning point without noticing it? On the surface, it is about quality and connectedness of data and information which come from multiple sources with different measuring and reporting criteria. By the time they reach decision makers, these data are aggregated, then apportioned, freely interpreted and compared so that in the end, their value is reduced to the level that decision become risky but with unknown consequences.
At a deeper level, however, the problem with quality of data is related to fragmented organisation, top-down management where decisions don’t follow the natural flow of work, and measures of system performance that are detached from operational reality. It is also about legacy mindset, which sees the system as stable, boxed structure, that only trusts the official information that comes from the same sources year after year, packed in standardised reporting formats, no matter the quality. Analysing these data with unknown origins further distorts information, allowing for free interpretations.

By making decisions based on too many assumptions, we unknowingly create more problems elsewhere and are unable to measure their impact on the system due their complexity. When we compare the planned and actual results published in company reports, we cannot say what is beyond these figures, what really happened and why, and what we need to improve. Regardless of amount of data we collect and analyse, sometimes the impact of our decisions is minor, and sometimes it can have longer-term implications on the system performance that we wouldn’t be aware of. 
This is because the system we are in is not designed to manage things we are facing in real life. Complexity arises from interactions between people and processes that are the very nature of airline business, but existing information systems and management do not recognise it. Hence the detachment between strategy and operations, plans and reality."


This time the chances are that we may start below the turning point which may be painful in the beginning, but then it will be up to us to decide whether we want to know or not when things start to go downwards.




Tuesday, 4 February 2020

What an honour!

I feel honoured to be ranked among the Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on culture by Thinkers360. Such a great inspiration for my further work.
There are many thought leaders and influencers that shaped the way I think and do things today. I somehow feel that this is our common achievement and am grateful to all of them for sharing their insightful thoughts and experiences.

I am also honoured to be among the Top 100 Women B2B Thought Leaders You Should Follow in 2020 ranked by Thinkers360.


#innovation #technology #culture


Sunday, 19 January 2020

What Does It Take to Make Airlines More Responsive to Introducing New Technology?

There are so many brilliant books and articles about the benefits of digitalisation and new technologies explained persuasively by technology experts and consultants. And yet, organisations supposed to gain from these benefits remain mostly unresponsive. Why? Because, in most cases, what is on offer is seen through the eyes of external providers of technology solutions. 

What is missing is to get into the shoes of those responsible for airline overall performance, those who need to understand the real benefits that new technology can bring to their organisation, and ultimately to figure out if the required investment can justify their decision. 

Things can significantly change if providers of new technology can demonstrate the benefits of their product seen through the eyes of C-level executives. In airline industry it can be done by introducing the simple human/machine interface that connects the disconnected parts of organisation when it matters and translates the consequences and true causes of strategic pain points manifested through operational disruptions to the C-suite. 

#technology #strategy #disruptions #operations #reinventingorganizations #reinventingdecisionmaking #ai #investment

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Improving Collaborative Decision Making at Busiest Hub Airports Appears to Be The Last Resort To Minimise The Impact Of Growing Disruptions. Can Bridging The Gap Between Theory And Practice Speed Up This Process?


My interview with Sergio Martins, Director Air Traffic Management - Latin America, Saab Group

Major hub airports are running out of capacity needed to meet the growing demand for air travel, and many others are facing the same problem at their busiest times. And still, traffic growth at capacity constrained airports continues, accelerating the risks of disruptions with far reaching consequences on airlines, passengers, environment, and on the safety of air travel. In these circumstances, easing this problem means either limiting the volume of traffic to manageable levels (doesn’t seem feasible in the foreseeable future), waiting for strategic adjustments to take place, or freeing up some airport capacities by improving efficiency in decision making on the day of operations.

With the latest option in mind, I came across articles written by Sergio Martins, Director Air Traffic Management - Latin America, Saab Group, pointing to the opportunities for improvement on airports´ airside. What makes these articles stand out is that they provoke rethinking and refinement of current practices encompassing relationships between airports, airlines, ATC and ground handlers. And all that being expressed with passion and eagerness to contribute to so much needed improvement in efficiency of decision making in one of the most complex areas of airport and airline operations. His views are supported by his firsthand experience in multiple areas of air transport industry, including air traffic control, flight operations, air/ground communications and airport management systems, enabling him to see problems and solutions associated with airports’ airsides from the wider perspective.  

Sergio kindly accepted my invitation for an interview and felt enthusiastic about sharing his insightful knowledge related to overcoming existing obstacles that cross organisational and geographical boundaries. We will be covering the airside issues in general, as well as those faced by airports in Europe, US, and Latin America to show the diversity in approaches to improvement in efficiency and service quality of airport and airline operations.

So, here we are. I hope you are ready to embark on a journey of discovery of an area not so simple to grasp, but well worth understanding not only by operations specialists but by airline and airport leaders and strategists and also policy makers across the industry. 


JR: To start with, could you explain what are the main obstacles to improvement in airport operational efficiencies?

SM: Historically, private airport concessionaires have focused in optimising processes and procedures within passenger terminals, while failing to touch a critical, complex and high impact component of their business – the airport apron, commonly referred to as “airside”. The problem is that most resources currently involved in airside procedures are managed by numerous players (airlines, ground handlers, airport operator, air traffic controllers) performing a wide range of complexly interrelated tasks. Although all such those theoretically pursue a common objective - optimum on-time performance, clear leadership and ownership of airside operations are still to be established, under the framework of a commonly agreed modus operandi, which should account for local/regional aspects while sticking to a clear set of general principles.   

JR: This lack of coordination and collaboration has certainly contributed to growing airport and system inefficiencies which triggered actions for setting the standards and guidelines for collaborative decision making at industry level. The resulting concept - A-CDM (Airport Collaborative Decision Making) was initiated in Europe in 2004 and first deployed at Brussels Airport (2010) and Munich (2017). FAA has its own similar concept S-CDM (Surface Collaborative Decision Making), and ICAO adopted the concept and broaden it.

Let’s start with Eurocontol´s A-CDM born as a result of a joint venture between ACI Europe, Eurocontrol, International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO). It is said that A-CDM basically aims to connect the airspace management optimization carried out by Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management Centres (ATFCM) with ground-based services. Initial results have confirmed that when enhanced by combination of airspace and airport processes it can result in reduced delays, better predictability and optimum use of both airspace and airport resources, potentially increasing the capacity of participating airports. This all sounds very promising.  How well are these initiatives embraced by airports and airlines? 

SM: Over the last few years the whole air transport industry simply fell in love with the collaborative spirit promoted by A-CDM ‘culture’. It has become a buzz word. There is no single meeting, conference, seminar or trade show addressing the air transport industry where A-CDM is not glamorously welcomed as something being successfully implemented everywhere by everyone. However, few people actually understand the major cultural/behaviour paradigm shift demanded by actual implementation of A-CDM operating mode, way beyond sharing information and promoting enhanced global situational awareness.

What needs to be understood, sooner rather than later, is that fully transparent information sharing and optimum level of common situation awareness across the whole airport community are actually the foundation upon which a wholly new way of operating an airport must be introduced – the A-CDM Operating Mode. It is fair to say it makes little sense for an airport to start planning A-CDM introduction prior to engaging a major effort towards deployment of a robust information sharing platform which, in my personal view, must include surface surveillance technologies. I truly believe that the most important airside related information to be shared amongst all stakeholders, to enable all the beauty of A-CDM, is the real time visual monitoring of aircraft and vehicles over the airside. The whole set of collaborative applications developed by the industry to promote enhanced situation awareness at airports is drastically improved when industry standard surface surveillance technologies are implemented.

JR: Your approach to A-CDM obviously adds a practical value to the original theoretical model.

SM: Well, my proposed approach is not so much innovative bearing in mind that Eurocontrol clearly states in its A-CDM Implementation Manual the following:

“Information Sharing is the first Concept Element, which creates the foundation for all other functions, while being beneficial in its own right. Therefore, it is essential to implement this element, before other Airport CDM Concept Elements and functions, in order to achieve a smooth implementation of the succeeding Concept Elements.”

What it clearly suggests is that before any long term commitment with the enforcement of the so called “Best Planned, Best Served” paradigm, proposed by A-CDM Operating Mode, via TOBTs (Target off-Block Times) and TSATs (Target Start-up Approval Times), airports stakeholders do have a homework to do – to deploy solid information sharing/situation awareness foundation, which then, may or may not lead to full A-CDM implementation, which requires a complex and time-consuming cultural and behaviour change. That´s all about sacrificing individual flexibility on behalf of global availability, balancing on-time performance with predictability concerns.

In short, what I am particularly convinced is that some type of surface surveillance technology is a must whenever efficient airside management is to be pursued, no matter who is in charge of managing aircraft and vehicle movements within the airside, be it ATC or Apron Control Centre. Surface surveillance has widely demonstrated its ability to save hours of aircraft taxi time, reduce fuel consumption and cut CO2 emissions, not to manage improving passenger experience by drastically raising the level of airport and airlines´ predictability. 

All those benefits might be achieved with a combination of:

·       Common-use Database - known as ACISP (Airport CDM Common Information Sharing Platform)
·       Cooperative surface surveillance, continuously feeding ACISP with critical real time information on aircraft and vehicles´ movement within the airside

All the above may (and should) be done prior to enforcing TOBT/TSAT policy to airlines, as that´s most critical aspect of A-CDM implementation – the reduction of airline´s flexibility in exchange for higher global availability of airside resources.

Another interesting way to support my statement is to focus on ICAO´s Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP), with emphasis on two specific Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBU) - Block 0 (reference date 2013) 
  •  SURF - Basic Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control Systems (A-SMGCS) provides surveillance and alerting of movements of both aircraft and vehicles at the aerodrome, thus improving runway/aerodrome safety. Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) information is used when available (ADS-B APT).
  •  A-CDM - Implements collaborative applications that will allow the sharing of surface operations data among the different stakeholders on the airport. This will improve surface traffic management reducing delays on movement and manoeuvring areas and enhance safety, efficiency and situational awareness.
It is an obvious conclusion that, for any airports raising runway/aerodrome safety concerns, due to the complexity of its operation, real time position information should be a part of the ‘surface operations data’ to be shared amongst stakeholders, as a means to reduce delays on movement and manoeuvring areas.   

JR: Can this be illustrated by some examples?

SM: To illustrate how it works in real world, we can mention the results achieved in the US, in particular at Atlanta International Airport back in 2010, after implementation of a common-use surface surveillance platform (no formal CDM Operating mode, implemented):

With the deployment of Saab´s Aerobahn Surface Management System, fed by a ground based multilateration network in 2010, Atlanta has created a collaborative environment where all stakeholders (airport, airlines and the FAA) have a common platform to improve overall airport operations. In 2012, Atlanta saved 36,400 hours in taxi time and 64,400 hours in schedule delay per year, saving airlines $97 million annually with delays at their lowest level since measurement began in 1990 (10.1 per thousand operations).  This reflects a 21% improvement in addition to a 54.7% delay reduction achieved in 2011. Furthermore, Saab´s surface surveillance platform, with its advanced event alerting functionality, prevented long on-board delays saving 300,000 passenger days during those years.

Other deployments include: Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia, New Newark, Philadelphia and Phoenix. Major airlines as American Airlines, Delta and United are also prominent customers/users.

JR: The US approach seems to be more effective which must be associated with conceptual differences between A-CDM and S-CDM. If so, what prevents Europeans from following these steps?

SM: Air Traffic Management in US and Europe have a number of differences which cause their CDM initiatives, not to be so easily interchangeable, although both initiatives seek for the same results and require from airlines and ground handlers, high level of predictability with regards to flights´ readiness time. The one thing which remains valid for any and all CDM initiatives is that higher global availability of resources is achieved as a result of tighter flexibility levels enforced to stakeholders.

One of such major differences is that while in Europe, airside management is undertaken by Control Tower, through the Air Traffic Controller at the “ground” operational position (although no “control” service is actually provided within the Apron), in US, aircraft and vehicles within the Apron are monitored and supported by the “Apron/Ramp Control Centres” – normally operated by the airport operator itself or third parties hired for the provision of the service (quite often major carriers undertake such role at their main hubs.           

JR: Let’s talk about Latin America. How much is it opened for implementation of A-CDM? 

SM: Two main aspects are to be addressed, with the aim of understanding the challenge of airside management improve in Latin America:

Historically, airports in Latin America, were operated by state owned entities, as part of their “mission” (a pretty military concept). Under such scenario, things as profitability and competitiveness were not so relevant, as airports existed to provide the community with safe airport operations.

Airport privatization wave raised a new scenario, where private/profit driven concessionaries are challenged to efficiently serve private airlines, which are supported by private ground handling agents. All of this takes place within a fairly competitive environment, where airports compete with each other for airlines´ preference. Now, airport service efficiency directly impacts on airports/airlines´ profitability, which is their ultimate goal, as private entities.   

Under the new scenario, the need to tear down the frontier between airport and air traffic control is a must and airside lies right in the centre of the challenge to be faced by airport stakeholders. It´s important to acknowledge that aircraft operation within the apron area and around the gates involve the use of multiple resources – trucks, buses, cars, personnel, gates, etc., in a physical space not owned by anyone - air traffic controllers provide only information outside manoeuvring area. In short, Air Traffic Control manages runways and taxiways and airport concessionaire manages passenger terminal. The one-million-dollar question is, how to join all stakeholders into a single coordinated effort to improve the efficiency of airside procedures and that´s what A-CDM (Airport Collaborative Decision Making) and all other CDM driven initiatives are all about.  

Unfortunately, a number of regional issues have been dramatically affecting Latin American stakeholders´ ability to properly assess A-CDM related opportunities and requirements.

It is widely recognized that any A-CDM initiatives, including preliminary gap analysis, should engage all stakeholders as of day one. This basic concept has been recognized by all guiding documents of associations and organizations including ICAO, IATA, ACI, etc. However, that´s not how things have happened in Latin America, where individual stakeholders (typically Airport Operator or ANSP) unilaterally decide to develop an A-CDM program. As a rule, little engagement of those expected to be the main potential beneficiaries of A-CDM - airlines and ground handlers and that is precisely in this contradiction which lies the major risk of A-CDM deployment processes, characterized by unbalanced participation of different stakeholders.

To make it even worse, as previously highlighted, A-CDM, as well as any other CDM related operating model is based upon reduction of stakeholders’ flexibility in the booking of resources, as the means to generate higher global availability levels.

Another point of concern is the fact that, unlike United States and Europe, where meteorological conditions have led ANSPs (Air Navigation Service Providers) to deploy ATC Surface Surveillance (A-SMGCS) platforms for safety reasons at most medium/large airports, Latin American airports have virtually assumed blind airside operation as a standard, once no surface surveillance information is available. That dramatically affects stakeholders´ situation awareness, which makes it even harder for airlines and ground handlers to reach the level of predictability they need to seriously candidate for A-CDM implementation.

JR: From airlines’ perspective, planning block times on routes operating through congested airports and airspace includes complex tradeoffs. Enforcing such changes at one airport without understanding the consequences on other parts of airline route network has already been met by their resistance. Could you explain in more details in which way A-CDM affects this process.

SM: In traditional pre-A-CDM operation, airport resources are allocated based upon a “first called, first served” policy. That means airlines (and their ground handling agents) do their best to eliminate/minimize possible delays with no information exchanged with airport and ATC, with regards to imminent delays. That causes poor allocation of airport resources, due to the lack of visibility on predicted readiness time of each flight.

What A-CDM and its Target Off-Block Time (TOBT) and Target Start-Up Approval Time (TSAT) policy enforces is the continuous information exchange between airlines and airport operators with regards to each flight´s estimated readiness times. That allows airport operator and ATC to build a realistic start-up/push-back/taxi/take-off sequence, which proves supported by airport infrastructure and airspace availability. This is all about operating as fast as realistically possible while ensuring maximum predictability. The operation paradigm than changes to “best planned, best served”.

JR: Unhappy with some of A-CDM rules, European airlines have decided to form an Airline Airport Collaborative Decision Making Group ('AACG') in 2015 (supported by IATA) to tackle many unharmonized European A-CDM processes and procedures that added complexity, and in some cases inefficiencies and delays within airline operations. This signals that the whole process is still far from being fully harmonised and implemented in Europe. How long do you think the full implementation of A-CDM operating model can take? 

SM: If we assume that stakeholders are going to make a well-informed, joint decision to collaborate (for duly understood and acknowledged reasons), and accept the flexibility reduction imposed by A-CDM operating model and it´s actual implementation, quite optimistically, we are talking about two years; not to mention radically changing culture and behaviour of hundreds of thousands of people within the whole airport community... and beyond (regulatory agents, customs & immigration, etc.).

JR: There are so many valuable information related to these processes that can help with better planning and management of airline resources, adjustment of strategies, and also improve the visibility of reasons for disruptions caused by service providers. Can it be adjusted for decision making outside of operational environment? Is such information already available?

SM: This information can be provided. In the case of Aerobahn platform, apart from supporting immediate decision making, it can also provide number of tools required for post-operational analysis at various organisational levels, from operations through scheduling, network and strategic planning. This can help with:

• Improving schedule efficiencies and block time planning
• Maximizing runway, taxiway and gate/stand utilization
• Decreasing delays & heightening performance during irregular operations
• Reducing emissions
• Identifying trends and recurring operational problems
• Better forecasting of the impact of future operational events
• Understanding of usage of airport resources, enabling verification of related fees
• Improving post-operational analysis leading to automation or process improvements
• Facilitating long-term planning

JR: To wrap it up, what would be your message to those unsure about the benefits that new approach to collaborative decision making at airports can bring to the industry?

SM: Worldwide, privatization of airlines and airports is leading the profit driven entities to an obvious challenge - how to achieve the best cost/benefit ratio out of limited infrastructures. It is not a coincidence that A-CDM related discussions are flourishing everywhere, quite often ahead of time and lacking technical expertise. This seems to be the 21st century stakeholders´ intuitive strive to go for maximum profitability.

Under the light of such scenario, it becomes evident that, no matter which specific concept of operations stakeholders agree to adopt at a given airport, predictability is going to be the key for success! That is critical for the governance amongst airlines and ground handlers. As time goes by, airlines will be challenged to share more accurate information on their readiness times, with the owners of airside and airspace, at the risk of not counting on essential resources for their operations when they actually need them. Let's see where it all goes, as time goes by. At least, I remain absolutely convinced that collaboration is the way to travel… not the destination!      



I would like to thank Sergio for his insightful views on regulatory and technical aspects of airport collaborative decision making. The biggest challenge will continue to be the improvement in communication between people at frontline and between those responsible for strategic adjustments. These are the places where merging the best of human and technology capabilities can help with disrupting disruptions while waiting for the next leap in industry development.