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Airport Management 101

Managing an airport takes more than loading passengers and maintaining runways. From a formidably lively crowd to exhausted faces, long queues, information displays, baggage claim conveyors, arriving aircrafts waiting to be fueled and catered for imminent departure. 

It isn’t just about simply taking and bringing you from your point of origin to your destination. It covers a broad overview of the airline management and processes involved to ensure your experience runs as smoothly as possible. 

Before this pandemic, given the often dynamic nature of airports with hundreds and thousands of people traveling for leisure, work, religion, being with loved ones, or what reasons they may have, proper operations take a crucial part for everyone’s safety. 

This article will take a detailed look at primary operations, management, and how busy and bustling the airport functions. Moreover, before we tackle the primary processes, let’s start first with airport operations software.

Airport Management Software 

AODB- Airport Operational Database

It is considered the brain of an airport IT infrastructure and a trusted system to deliver accurate, constant, and prompt information to ensure operations efficiency.

Furthermore, all data is distributed to all systems and subsystems that need access to the information, for example, airport personnel in various departments, airlines, passengers, etc. The philosophy of such a system is' 'Record once and use many.”

AODB main functions include:

  • Reference – data processing
  • Seasonal scheduling
  • Daily flight schedule processing 
  • Processing of payments

The most important information that this database holds is the seasonal schedule of flights. It displays necessary information about commercial flight movements. Containing the flight code, aircraft type, estimated arrival and departure times, multi-stop flights, operations day of the week, exception dates, and other relevant information. 

Landside Operations

These operations have a customer-service role overseeing the terminals, concourses, roadways, and properties surrounding the airport. They also conduct the day-to-day operations inside the terminals and parking decks, such as passenger check-in, customs, baggage handling, and screening. 

  • Passenger Facilitation Services 

Includes passenger processing (check-in, boarding, border control) and baggage handling (tagging, dropping, and handling). They follow passengers to the shuttle buses to carry them to their flights. Arrival operations include boarding control and baggage handling. 

  • Border Control (Customs and Security Services)

In airports, security services usually unite perimeter security, terminal security, and border controls. These services require biometric authentication and integration into government systems to allow a customs officer to view the status of a passenger. 

  • Baggage Handling 

A passenger must check a bag before it’s loaded on the aircraft. The baggage is loaded and tracked until the destination is reached and the bag is returned to the owners. 

  • Common Use Services (Self-Service Check-In Systems)

An airport must ensure smooth passenger flow. Various digital self-services, like check-in kiosks or automated self-service gates, make it happen. Self-service options, especially check-in kiosks, remain popular. Worldwide in 2019, passengers used booths to check themselves 90 percent of the time.

Air Traffic Management

Airside operations comprise control and facilitation of aircraft handling and parking. This includes air traffic control equipment and management solutions for air navigation.

Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunication Network (AFTN) Systems. AFTN Systems handle communication and exchange of data, including navigation services. Usually, airports exchange traffic environment messages, safety messages, weather, geographic material, disruptions, etc. They serve as communication between airports and aircraft.

AFTN systems hold the following information:

  • Aircraft registration
  • Runway used
  • The actual time of landing and departure
  • Number of circuits
  • Number and type of approaches
  • New estimates of arrival and departure
  • New flight information
  • Air traffic management is performed from an ATC tower.
  • ATC Tower. The Air Traffic Control Tower is a structure that delivers air and ground control of the aircraft. It ensures safety by guiding and navigating the vehicles and aircraft. It is performed by way of visual signaling, radar, and radio communication. 

Invoicing and Billing

Each flight an airport handles generates defined revenue for the airport paid by the airline operating the aircraft. Aeronautical invoicing systems make payment possible for any type and size of aircraft. It accepts payments in cash and credit in multiple currencies. The billing also extends to ATC services.

Depending on the aircraft type and weight, and ground services provided, an airport can calculate the aeronautical fee and issue an invoice with a bill. It is calculated using the following data:

  • Aircraft registration
  • Parking time at the airport
  • Airport point of departure and landing
  • Times at the different points of entry or departure
  • The data is entered or integrated from ATC. Based on this information, the airport calculates the charges and sends the bills.

Airport information systems (AIS)

This category includes all types of software that collect, distribute, and update information from around the airport, including public address systems and flight information display systems (FIDS). They receive data from airlines and terminals, data on time, and arrival gates that must be sent to the passengers. However, they can also display marketing information or any other non-flight-related types, such as weather or news broadcasts.

Flight Information Display Systems (FIDS) exhibit the status of boarding, gates, aircraft, flight number, and other flight details. A computer controls the screens connected to the data management systems and displays up-to-date information about flights in real-time. 

Airport announcement systems or public address (PA) systems inform passengers and airport staff about any changes and processes of importance, for instance, gates, times of arrival, calls, and alerts. Also, information can be communicated to pilots, aircraft staff, crew, etc. PA systems usually include voice messages broadcasted through loudspeakers.

Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS) broadcasts the weather reports, the condition of the runway, or other local information for pilots and crews.


Cybersecurity protects personal or sensitive information or any form of digital asset stored in a computer or a digital memory device; it is also the protection of physical IT assets from random attacks targeted to destroy or disable computing power.

139 Operations Software


There’s no smarter or more efficient application to manage your airfield operations than this. It’s main goal is to provide modern and easy-to-use systems for making daily airport tasks less mundane, more efficient; and ultimately making the airport more safe and secure—the best and simplest way to complete your inspection with flying colors.

Final Thoughts 

The COVID-19 crisis severely hit the airline industry with an average demand decrease of about 64% (IATA, 2020), which triggered several bankruptcies of airline companies worldwide, closure, and reduced frequency air routes. Every airport’s performance impacts the operating airlines, stimulating economic growth and maintaining stability in the region. 

In addition, it is an integral part of the entire aviation system. Efficient airport management and proper airline management go hand in hand. There are many cross-over points; there are many similarities and a vast number of considerations that impact both domains.  

Moreover, with this crucial situation, we need to adapt to new circumstances, be logical in planning and use resources according to travel demand. Realizing the importance of proper and efficient airport management is integral for the survival and success of every industry.

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