Martin Bowman: Stakeholders in airports need to learn teamwork

PROBLEMS with immigration queues have been brought to the fore by recent revelations. Security has to be paramount at all borders.

However, increased security measures have had an impact on passengers’ progress through airports. There is mounting pressure to address queueing times at passport control – particularly at key hubs such as Heathrow, especially with the forthcoming Olympics.

The good news is that more can be done. Different stakeholders at airports, including airlines, ground handling operators, retailers and, of course, immigration, run their operational systems in silos. This divergent approach means that identification of potential problems affecting passengers are not shared. Problems are compounded.

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If airport stakeholders work in unison, sharing demand forecasts and tactical readjustments in real time, then the likelihood of service levels dipping and the resultant security compromising actions would be diminished. These initiatives are already prevalent in airports with a concept known as Collaborative Decision Making (CDM). This is targeted at ensuring airports, airlines and air navigation service providers worldwide implement a common platform for information sharing across airside operations.

To respond to the immigration challenge, CDM must extend beyond the gate, deep into terminal operations and across a greater number of stakeholders throughout airports. By implementing systems to manage queues using the latest technology to track pinch points in real time, this joined-up approach allows airports and their stakeholders (including immigration) to work together to put resources in place to manage issues immediately. This collaborative decision making approach is supported by industry body, Airports Council International. We cannot return to queues of two to three hours for visitors from outside the European Union. We need to act now.

• Martin Bowman is sector director, transport of the Amor Group.