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The Role of Information Technology in the Airport Business: A Retail-Weighted Resource Management Approach for Capacity-Constrained Airports

By Dirk Klann


Much research has been undertaken to gain insight into business alignment of IT. This alignment basically aims to improve a firm’s performance by an improved harmonization of the business function and the IT function within a firm. The thesis discusses previous approaches and constructs an overall framework, which a potential approach needs to fit in. Being in a highly regulated industry, for airports there is little space left to increase revenues. However, the retailing business has proven to be an area that may contribute towards higher income for airport operators. Consequently, airport management should focus on supporting this business segment. Nevertheless, it needs to be taken into account that smooth airport operations are a precondition for successful retailing business at an airport. Applying the concept of information intensity, the processes of gate allocation and airport retailing have been determined to appraise the potential that may be realized upon (improved) synchronization of the two. It has been found that the lever is largest in the planning phase (i.e. prior to operations), and thus support by means of information technology (for information distribution and improved planning) may help to enable an improved overall retail performance. In order to determine potential variables, which might influence the output, a process decomposition has been conducted along with the development of an appropriate information model. The derived research model has been tested in different scenarios. For this purpose an adequate gate allocation algorithm has been developed and implemented in a purposewritten piece of software. To calibrate the model, actual data (several hundred thousand data items from Frankfurt Airport) from two flight plan seasons has been used. Key findings: The results show that under the conditions described it seems feasible to increase retail sales in the magnitude of 9% to 21%. The most influential factors (besides the constraining rule set and a retail area’s specific performance) proved to be a flight’s minimum and maximum time at a gate as well as its buffer time at gate. However, as some of the preconditions may not be accepted by airport management or national regulators, the results may be taken as an indication for cost incurred, in case the suggested approach is not considered. The transferability to other airport business models and limitations of the research approach are discussed at the end along with suggestions for future areas of research

Topics: gate assignment problem, retail sales, algorithm, combinatorial explosion, business process engineering, information intensity, data model, simulation framework
Publisher: Cranfield University
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

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