PANDEMIC SIM – Impact analysis and improvement potentials for airport security processes
Authors: Martin Jung, Axel B. Classen
Abstract: In the beginning of 2020, one of airports’ greatest concerns was how to provide sufficient capacity for traffic both on airside and on landside. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic affects worldwide the complete transport sector traffic numbers are significantly nosediving due to wide-ranging travel restrictions – especially as to passenger air transport (see IATA, 2020). In order to enable air transport to recover as soon as travel restrictions are lifted and to ensure that passengers as well as people working within the air transport sector will remain safe, the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus via droplet, airborne or contact transmission during travel processes must obligatory be mitigated. A recent document, issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) together with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), therefore provides “guidance for the management of air passengers and aviation personnel in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic” (EASA, ECDC, 2021). This document describes measures to minimize contamination risks along travel processes. The measures described are flanked by other documents and initiatives of the relevant actors in air transport, like the IATA, ICAO, ACI as well as governmental authorities. In our study we examine those measures that have an impact on airport-terminal’s passenger flow and capacity with emphasis on security checks (Airport Security Process – ASP) by dint of a new simulation model named Pandemic Simulation Model (Pandemic SiM), hereby namely Pandemic SiM ASP. For this purpose we advanced a recently developed baseline simulation model (SiM) reproducing the security check area of a medium sized European airport serving around 12 million passengers per year. SiM was originally developed during a former project under pre-COVID-19 conditions and validated together with experts of that airport. Pandemic SiM is now the enhanced version comprising pandemic guidelines for the purpose of process visualization, impact analysis and identification of improvement potentials and may even be adapted individually to any other airport environment.In order to examine the consequences resulting from changes in passenger management at airports we compare the results of simulation runs of the current baseline model SiM with those of our new model Pandemic SiM, updated according to the relevant measures prescribed by EASA and ECDC (EASA, ECDC, 2021). In a first step we examine the behaviour of Pandemic SiM by simulating the original baseline traffic scenario parallel in both models, SiM and Pandemic SiM. In a second step we compare the resulting figures of baseline SiM with those of Pandemic SiM COVID-19 model. This direct comparison of the simulation outputs with the same traffic scenario will show the consequences of the measures to stem the pandemia. In a third step, we will carve out an approximation of the operational capacity limits under pandemic conditions by varying traffic volume in further simulations.Based on the analysis of the simulation results we will not only be able to quantify the resulting capacity but also to develop suggestions to improve airport operations and capacity under COVID-19 conditions in the final section of our paper.
Keywords: COVID-19, pandemic, airport security, impact, capacity
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