RS&H’s vice chairman, senior principal aviation planner, Bart Gover, outlines ten causes some airports select to forego long-range planning.
It’s true that generally selecting to do nothing is the simplest choice to make. Nevertheless, planning is crucial to succeed and has lengthy been thought-about a elementary device used to attain a desired consequence.
Assuming this nonetheless holds true at the moment, why do some airports fail to plan? Within the case of long-range airport planning, some airports and their employees members have combined feelings in regards to the worth planning supplies when offset by what they see as its limitations.
Think about your self as an skilled airport planning marketing consultant assembly with an airport for the primary time. Your mission is three-fold: to pay attention fastidiously and collect details about their future actions or initiatives, to ascertain knowledgeable relationship and credibility with airport employees, and to develop technique for positioning your organisation for future marketing consultant choice.
You pose a query to gauge your prospects with the consumer. “Inform me about how your airport makes use of planning to make future choices?” What comes subsequent usually falls in one among two situations summarised within the hypothetical dialog beneath.
State of affairs A: We worth planning and repeatedly replace our plan to accommodate change
“That’s a subject we’ve mentioned typically because the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the airport supervisor. “Our most up-to-date planning venture was an airport grasp plan that centered on figuring out the services we have to assist our anticipated development over the subsequent 20 years.
“We use our plan routinely to make choices in regards to the timing and eligible funding sources for particular person initiatives and steadiness them towards the wants of our tenants, business companions and public.”
These phrases are music to a planner’s ears! Nevertheless, there could also be a distinct response.
State of affairs B: Let me inform you about our challenges in doing planning
The airport supervisor begins by admitting, “Planning is one thing we must always most likely be doing extra.
“Previously, although, we now have had challenges that make it tough for us to take it on. The pandemic has proven us that planning for the unknown will be extraordinarily difficult and tough to justify throughout a interval of decline.”
A planner should pay attention intently to know this mindset and seek for methods to proceed inside that framework. In spite of everything, that is likely one of the main functions of any planning venture – to chart a path ahead primarily based on previous and current circumstances.
Most planners think about long-range planning as a essential step for achievement and reaching a purpose. Sadly, some airport administration attitudes typically stand in the way in which. The record beneath identifies ten widespread beliefs about planning. These embrace the next assumptions and alternatives:
1. Planning initiatives take too lengthy to finish
As a result of the schedule for any planning venture needs to be commensurate with the scope of companies requested, the timeline for completion have to be balanced with the airport’s capability to offer the mandatory data, assessment the plan, and grant approval.
Some airports get slowed down with every day schedules and job duties that make it tough to reply shortly to marketing consultant requests. Some airports view the period of time they have to spend planning and co-ordinating as a motive to not plan, particularly given the time it could take the FAA to assessment initiatives within the US.
Actuality: However, some airports may say their marketing consultant shouldn’t be giving their plan the precedence it deserves. Consultants should perceive these limitations and allocate planning assets together with devoted employees, teaming companions, and using specialised software program or gear primarily based on the airport’s timeline.
Most consultants have vital bench energy to accommodate the consumer’s schedule; nevertheless, value and worth have to be understood. Expectations needs to be agreed upon throughout the negotiation course of to align the venture scope, schedule and funds.
2. Planning is a decrease precedence than an engineering or growth venture
It’s no shock that almost all airports desire designing or constructing one thing tangible fairly than growing a theoretical plan that sits on a shelf. Failing to plan for a future engineering or development venture, nevertheless, can affect on long-term operational effectivity, future flexibility, potential environmental points and monetary feasibility.
Actuality: If there isn’t any planning over the course of a few years, airports can expertise vital challenges to accommodate future demand given restricted accessible land, adjustments in federal requirements, accessible funding, and eligibility necessities for a federal grant. Within the US, the FAA strongly means that airports conduct long-range planning at the least each ten years, or when vital adjustments on the airport warrant the necessity for a brand new plan.
3. The plan by no means performs out in actuality
Plans do change, particularly over time, however the lack of planning normally creates future issues. The method of planning requires that airports study a number of situations which anticipate adjustments within the business together with journey patterns, air service, new companies, upcoming laws/requirements, plane fleet combine, and the vital issue of public assist.
Actuality: Planning is a means of steady refinement, nevertheless, airports that worth planning typically recognize the flexibility to replace the plan to accommodate change shortly.
4. Current/future tenants will view planning as a change leading to greater prices
Some airport managers are involved that planning initiatives are a catalyst for elevating charges, in search of extra capital funding, and altering current day working preparations with its tenants.
This may be true if that’s the purpose of the plan, however trendy planning practices search to maximise income alternatives by enhancing companies and constructing services which in flip profit airport tenants.
Actuality: Many long-range plans transcend fundamental airfield and services planning to incorporate monetary feasibility, sustainability, and resiliency components that replicate an airports’ Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) objectives.
A plan ought to determine an airport’s return on funding in a method that advantages its stakeholders resembling figuring out lifecycle prices, funding sources, and schedule for implementation. Profitable planning initiatives embrace an outreach programme designed to foster assist and hold tenants glad.
5. The plan is outdated the day it’s printed; it’s only a snapshot in time
This could generally be true if the scope of the plan narrowly focuses on a person venture location, if expectations change throughout the planning course of, or if airport choices aren’t shared with the marketing consultant. Narrowly scoped planning initiatives ought to determine the issue(s) to be resolved, the airport’s objectives, and all accessible data to make a sound choice.
Actuality: Many airports have transitioned away from awarding particular person planning initiatives. As an alternative, they promote for big scale on-call planning contracts. A marketing consultant is chosen primarily based on a person agency or crew of corporations’ capability to finish a listing of potential planning wants which will come up over an outlined interval, normally three to 5 years per contractual settlement. On-call planning contracts present the utmost quantity of flexibility for airports to maintain their plans up-to-date and keep away from prolonged procurement processes.
6. FAA can not amend planning grants
Present FAA laws within the US prohibit federal funded planning initiatives from being amended for value after the contract is awarded, nevertheless, planning initiatives could also be amended for time (schedule) if requested by an airport sponsor.
Actuality: In some distinctive instances, the FAA could approve extension of a venture schedule if the airport has skilled a big occasion resembling a pure catastrophe, act of terrorism, or new massive scale air service announcement that drastically impacts airport services and long-term wants.
This choice is left as much as the FAA Airports District Workplace or Regional Workplace and requires an official request from the airport sponsor. In different instances, the FAA can approve a request from the airport sponsor to speed up the venture schedule to shut out a planning grant for a venture sooner than initially anticipated. FAA stresses the significance of finishing a planning venture inside a three-year grant obligation interval.
7. The airport has no skilled employees to conduct long-range planning
Many airports have restricted employees assets and even fewer employees with planning expertise, which is vital when interacting with federal and state companies concerned within the approval course of. Businesses could require permits for potential environmental useful resource impacts together with wetlands, air air pollution and noise.
Actuality: Most consultants make use of specialists with expertise acquiring permits and have established working relationships inside the companies. Moreover, the FAA has an approval course of that features a forecast of future plane exercise ranges, essential plane, and an airport structure plan which graphically depicts future growth on the airport. Airports having restricted employees usually use consultants to scale back their burden by shifting it to the marketing consultant.
8. Planning is dear, what’s the ROI?
The price of any planning venture needs to be aligned with the significance of the planning venture objectives. If the venture is essential for future funding, the price of a planning venture is a small proportion of the particular value of future growth. Past the precise value, the intangible worth planning supplies an airport is big.
Actuality: Planning initiatives present a chance for an airport to interact its tenants, stakeholders and the general public to offer their enter on the plan and show assist for the plan’s suggestions.
Planning additionally helps place the airport as a superb neighbour and keep away from any surprises which will outcome from growth. Lastly, planning permits airport employees to inject creativity into the plan. Many planning initiatives are scoped to incorporate different ancillary wants resembling enchancment in customer support, facilities and conveniences desired by its passengers.
9. The airport has restricted funding accessible, and we’re centered on initiatives that contribute to the underside line
Whereas a planning venture alone won’t immediately produce income, a fastidiously crafted plan can embrace a listing of future initiatives that may create income for an airport.
Actuality: The quantity of estimated income over time is a key element of most plans. Certified planners who’ve labored with airports of all sizes and kinds convey their real-world expertise and classes realized to develop real looking income projections. Planning initiatives additionally embrace a listing of eligible funding sources. Airport managers particularly recognize the flexibility to place their very own funding plans collectively throughout annual budgeting.
10. We’ve no urge for food to attract consideration to weaknesses of the airport
This motive isn’t verbalised throughout a consumer assembly, however it might probably stay deep in some airport managers’ minds. Skilled planners discover this shortly if the airport has not modified in years and operates about the identical from one 12 months to the subsequent.
Actuality: It’s the planner’s job to persuade managers to spend money on planning. One of the best ways to do that is to ask what the airport’s most vital asset is.
If the response is a bodily facility, the planner can suggest a planning venture which focuses on airport growth resembling a grasp plan or a terminal space plan.
However, if their most vital asset is “the employees or the individuals who work right here”, then the planner can suggest a strategic marketing strategy specializing in the airport’s alternatives and constraints, organisational transition, capital funds and native financial contribution to the group. In spite of everything, no one desires to really feel like they might have executed extra to guard the airport’s most vital asset.