Airports are increasingly facing numerous challenges today especially due to September 11 attack in 2001. Challenges facing the airport management and security are numerous. They range from flight delays to increasing number of passengers and terrorists attacks. Though various measures have been implemented by relevant administration bodies, there seems to emerge a new challenge each day. These challenges create the need for advanced facilities in the enplanement and deplanement of passengers and their luggage, airport access facilities, and for modern designs of airport terminals. However, some challenges are perennial and outstanding in their nature. As a result, airport management has to continuously invest in the best ways of moving passengers in a fast and efficient manner. This paper discusses how airport authorities can ensure quicker and more efficient movement of passengers through the airport.
According to Christopher (2009), airports across the world continue to face an issue relating to increasing number of passengers in the wake of the screening requirement. This requirement was instituted after several terrorist attacks on passenger planes. Since then, numerous measures have been implemented to ensure that passengers who board planes do not threaten the security of others. However, this measure has resulted in the need to implement proper mechanisms to help move passengers through airports without causing congestion.
Wells & Young (2011) noted that a slight breach in airport security is likely to disrupt operations not only at that airport, but across the world, due to the interdependence of these transport facilities. Therefore, it is important that movement of passengers at the airport is given a major consideration alongside other challenges like insecurity, inadequate facilities, and technological change. Studies have shown that waiting time that passengers spend to be checked at the airport is a major contributing factor to delays and congestion at check counters.
Christopher (2009) noted that moving a large number of passengers at the airport is challenging especially with the limited facilities and manpower. Some of these facilities were designed to serve a certain limit of passengers, which has been passed in many airports. Christopher (2009) argues that most airports were designed with a single terminal, which departing and arriving passengers go through. Some do not have spacious walkways, sky-bridges, and underground tunnels.
How to Move Passengers at the Airport
According to Elias (2009), increased probability of terrorist attacks has forced the management of airports to implement checking measures such as screening of passengers at all airports. These security checks, if not well managed, can contribute to the increased number of passengers at the airport. It is, therefore, important that better equipment as well as well trained staff are present at all places for checking in and out. This will enable the personnel to carry out quick screening of passengers, which will allow passengers to move within the shortest time possible.
Comparably, Elias (2009) notes that most airports have facilities like roads and lounges which were designed to contain a certain number of people. However, with the increasing number of passengers, these facilities have become inadequate in meeting the needs of modern airports. Elias (2009), therefore, notes that strategic and operational planning by airport’s management is necessary to help factor in the anticipated increase in the number of passengers without putting strain on available facilities. As a measure to ensure quicker movement of passenger, ground facilities such as lounges should also be modified to allow easier movement of passengers.
Similarly, roads to the airport should be expanded to allow transport to move faster in and out of the airport. This should be accompanied by strict and clear regulation by the airport management on how long a vehicle can stay at the bus station near the airport. Christopher (2009) notes that most airports become congested with vehicles that arrive to pick passengers. Additionally, the overall transportation system to and from the airport should be designed in a manner in which faster movement of passengers can be ensured.
Another way of ensuring that passengers in airports move faster is to establish a limit on the number of non-passengers allowed in the airport beyond security checks. Elias (2009) indicates that most passengers in airports are accompanied by relatives or friends who come to pick them up or see them off. If not regulated, non-passengers can immensely contribute to the increased human traffic at the airport. Efforts should, therefore, be made to have this number reduced by allowing only a specified number of non-passengers to accompany passengers to the airport.
Another factor to consider in facilitating the movement of passengers at the airport is to separate terminals, through which departing and arriving passengers go through. Elias (2009) observes that most airports have a single terminal, which means that both arriving and departing passengers go through the same terminal. This causes difficulties as it messes up the sign-in process and makes passengers to miss their flights. This in turn results in increased congestion. Furthermore, passengers should adhere to the reporting times to avoid having to wait long time at the airport.
As a measure to cater for passengers with special needs, Christopher (2009) notes that certain services should be implemented to ensure that the time spent on attending to such passenger is reduced. For instance, a passenger in a wheelchair should be provided with exit routes from the airport to avoid blocking ways for other passengers.
Wells & Young (2011) observe that the challenge to quicker and more efficient movement of passengers at the airports is the application of different standards. Lack of synchronization in tools and equipments which are prohibited by various states has created a loophole in ensuring that passengers, especially those connecting routes, move quickly from one aircraft to the other. Because of this lack of standards regulation at the airports, passengers continue to undergo checks at different airports, hence contributing to further congestion.
It is clear that the number of passengers at airports will continue to increase in the next decade. There is, therefore, a need for management of airports, regulation bodies, and the government to come up with strategies that could help ensure that systems and procedures at the airports allow for quicker and more efficient movement of passengers. Moreover, technological advancements in aviation should be utilized to help ensure that large number of passengers is checked to reduce the waiting time at the check-in counters. There is also a need to improve facilities like lounges and roads at the airport to ensure that passengers have enough space to move inside and outside of airport’s facilities.