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Airport Operations

Airport Operations

Assessed against the following learning outcomes:

  1. Critically assess the consequences of physical design and capacity limitations for an airport. London
  2. Critically assess the strategy of a city with six airports. London airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted,
    Luton, City & Southend.
  3. Confirm or propose an alternative strategy forLondon as a city and its airports.
    Word Count : – 3000 to 4000 words

The following issues must be taken into account:

� Airfields.
� Terminals.
� Access.

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� Population.
� Economy.
� Airlines.
� Air services.

The highly competitive market has brought about new thinking in the airport industry.
To remain relevant and ensure exponential growth, airports have been compelled to undergo
structural transformation through privatization. In the past ten years, for instance, the
management of the airport has faced remarkable changes that have affected international
financial performance while elevating economic condition of the sector. This paper presents an
analysis of 6 airports in London City. It sets out to evaluate not just the strategic plan
implemented by London City’s airports but also the strategic options and techniques. In the end,
the paper recommends alternative options for sustainable growth.
Part one
This section looks at the impacts of physical design as well as capacity restrictions of
London City Airport. In addition, part one presents a detailed discussion regarding passenger
profile, facilities within the airport, and limitations of the airport due to its design and capacity.
The London City airport

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This is the city airport located at the Royal Docks. According to London City Airport
(2013), the airport is located in London City, the main financial district of Europe and London’s
business hub based in the Docklands. It also acts as the niche market. Again, this airport is
owned by Global Infrastructure Partners and Highstar Capital that control 75% and 25%
respectively. London City Airport is preferred by many travellers not only due to accessibility
but also because its efficient, ease and fast. Conversely, it plays a major role when it comes to
business output and inward investment. For instance, on a yearly basis, it contributes
approximately ₤750 million to the economy of UK (Greater London Authority, 2013). Besides, it
is the most prompt airport across UK. Consequently, the airport was recognized the “Airport of
the Year” in the category of serving less than ten million clients yearly (BBC, 2013).
Passenger profile
Three years ago, the airport served about 3.3 million passengers and handled roughly
74,000 aircraft schedules. In many instances, the airport provides point-to-point services,
whereby passengers prefer global flights due to business purposes (London City Airport, 2013).
The pie charts below illustrate the distribution of passengers based on gender, age, goal of
travelling and type of service chosen by travellers.

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Below 35
Above 55

Figure 1. Travellers profile with respect to age at City




Figure 2. Travellers profile with respect to gender at City

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Figure 3. Travellers profile with respect to aim of travelling
to City Airport



Global flights
Local flights

Figure 4. Passenger traffic based on type of service
London City Airport facilities

The airport provides a wide range of facilities to increase travel experience of customers.
Furthermore, the airport provides business class facilities to passengers accompanied with free

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Wi-Fi and internet connectivity (London City Airport, 2014). Again, London City Airport offers
other facilities and services including;
 Left and lost luggage services
 Care hire
 Restaurants and bars
 Currency points such as ATM services and currency exchange
 Parking areas on the eastern part of the airport, which provides short term and
long term stay for about nine hundred cars. Passengers also have the opportunity
to pre-book parking space.

Physical design and capacity
London City Airport comprises of different structures, for instance;

 The airport has one runway covering 1508 meters long and surrounded by King
George V Dock and the Royal Albert Dock with the ability to handle majority of
business aircrafts.
 Terminal and JET Centre, a business aviation situated on western part of the
 Fire station and ground handling services
 Apron
 Maintenance
 Other facilities such as operational areas

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The terminals consists of travellers self-service centers of Air France, SAS and British
Airways, security areas, baggage claim section, custom and business sections. Owing to the fact
that London City Airport is compact, it gives room to not just arrivals but also effective and
easier departures in comparison to other airports across London. Moreover, the airport has two
traveller piers, which connect the terminal to different stands. A scheduled aircraft has
approximately 17 stands; the pier on the west accommodates stands 1 to 10 while those on the
east handle 21to 24 stands (Full Fact, 2013). Nonetheless, buses serve stands nearer to the
terminal. Much as London City Airport has various physical designs, it also has some
 The 1508 meter runway is short; therefore, it is not in position to handle huge and wide
aircrafts. The biggest jets, London City Airport can accommodate are small and narrow
body like airbus A318.
 According to New Economic Foundation (2014) there are cases to close the operations of
London City Airport, which may negatively influence its expansion and potential growth.
 London City Airport is located on a constrained area as well as limited infrastructure that
hinder its ability to meet the increasing demand for air travel in turn constrains capacity.
The capacity of any given airport is described based on the restrictions imposed by the size of
the runway, airspace and terminal. With respect to the current approximations, London City
Airport would be at 100 percent- operating capacity in 2024 (Full Fact, 2013). The airport has
anticipated these constraints due to its physical design as well as capacity. To fulfill the
increasing capacity while enhancing demand for air travel, the airport has designed a 2030
Master Plan that revolves around planning and also developing its future expansion. Moreover,
the airport has developed “The City Airport Development Plan”, a planning submission for new

Airports Operations 8
airspace infrastructure and extended traveller facilities. The airport also purposes to enhance its
performance without negatively affecting the environment. Thus, the planning submission
consists of; comprehensive terminal structure; equivalent to taxi lane; and new airplane stand and
pier leeway.
Part 2
This part presents London’s strategy of multi-airport structure. In addition, this part
provides a detailed analysis of how traffic is distributed in the six airports, rout networks,
connection, surface movement and strategy assessment.
Strategic choices
Competitive assessment of the aviation sector is associated with the degree of influence airport
operators have on price and product features. For that reason, it is necessary to evaluate and
develop strategic options to gain competitiveness. Consequently, airport operators pursue
strategic choices in accordance with Porter’s strategies such as
 Cost leadership that focuses on low operation expenses
 Differentiation that involves creating unique products or services and also attractive
than their rivals
 Niche, which entails concentrating on a certain target audience or market

London Heathrow airport
This is UK’s center and the main airport located in the suburbs of western London.
Additionally, Heathrow airport is owned by Heathrow Airport Holdings. London Heathrow
airport is preferred owing to the myriad international connections it offers. In 2014, Heathrow

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airport was recognized by Skytrax as the “best airport for shopping”. On the other hand, in 2013
it was recognized through the ACI Europe Awards, as the best airport with respect to terminal 5.
Currently, London Heathrow airport has 5 terminals with 2 runways and 3 rd busiest globally
(LHR Airports, 2014). However, the main challenge the airport is facing is inadequate runway
capacity that is adversely affecting its operations because it might lose demand for air
movements to other centers across Europe.
While this has contributed to suggestions for the expansion of the London Heathrow
airport, it has often been halted due to political and environmental constrictions. Subsequently,
the airport utilizes differentiation tactic through provision of improved products. The
distinctiveness of London Heathrow airport is based on its capability to offer customized
services to various types of clients and its 5 terminals, for example;
 Terminal 1 focuses on local flights
 Terminal 3 concentrates on long-haul flights to United States, Asia and South
 Terminal 4 focuses on flights to Europe and long haul flights. In fact, at the moment it
accommodates SkyTeam alliance
 Terminal 5 is used by Iberia and British Airways

Some of the strategic priorities of London Heathrow airport include; launch terminal 2
operations; transforming the airport under a strong settlement; and plan and develop the airport
for future expansion.
Passenger profile

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The airport serves about 72m travellers yearly while remaining the center for long-haul
terminus. About three quarters of United Kingdom’s long haul destinations are easily accessible
through the London Heathrow airport.
Whereas the airport accommodates approximately 180 destinations, New York,
Amsterdam, Dublin, and Frankfurt are London Heathrow airport’s major destination. Heathrow
airport is mainly controlled by British Airways. Furthermore, London Heathrow airport is the
main center for British Airways and Virgin Atlantic’s main operating surface. Besides, major
airlines that operate from Heathrow airport include Delta, American and Air Canada.
Access to London Heathrow airport
The airport’s catchment area is based in the central regions of London such as regions in
the western as well as north-western London. It is about fifteen miles from central London and
easily accessible through coaches, buses and trains.
Gatwick airport
This is the second biggest airport in United Kingdom located in Crawley, western parts of
Sussex. In addition, it is controlled by Gatwick Limited. Actually, this airport is more popular in
comparison to Heathrow. In 2013 during The National Transport Award, Gatwick airport was
recognized as the “Airport of the Year”. In the year, in the British Parking Awards, Gatwick
airport was bestowed as the “Exceptional Customer Service” and “Best UK Airport” in the
Business Travel Awards (Full Fact, 2013).

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Gatwick airport has 2 terminals and 2 runways while operating as one runway airport.
The airport has an operation capacity of 95 percent and the busiest and one runway globally.
Nonetheless, insufficient runway capacity is a main problem that can influence Gatwick’s future
development. Like Heathrow airport, Gatwick employs differentiation approach to provide
unique services for charter as well as scheduled flights. Additionally, Gatwick airport has
integrated cost tactic following the development of cheap carriers (Gatwick Airport, 2014).
Gatwick has a number of strategic priorities such as;
 Improve efficiency and service value by genrating maximum returns at reduced
operational expenses.
 Gain competitive advantage while substituting Stansted and Heathrow airports’ services
to become London’s preferred airport
 Expanding its business travel in developing markets

Passenger profile
Gatwick airport provides a scheduled full-service, low-cost and charter services and
serves roughly 35 m travellers yearly. In addition, this airport provides point-point services,
while about a third of its clients travel to short-haul terminus primarily for leisure activities.
Gatwick airport’s destinations
This airport offers flight services to approximately 240 terminuses in more than 90
nations. In addition, the airport serves more destinations in comparison to Heathrow airport
especially in Continental Europe. Gatwick’s main destinations include Dublin, Amsterdam,
Geneva and Barcelona. It is also controlled by roughly 60 airlines whereas Easyjet is its biggest

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carrier and British Airways. Additionally, Gatwick is the main center for low-cost flights such
as Flybe (Gatwick Airport, 2013).
Accessibility to Gatwick airport
The catchment regions of Gatwick airport are central and southern parts of London
especially, Kent, Surrey and Sussex. It is about 28 miles south of London and it is adequately
linked to public transport systems. The airport initiative to attaining sustainbale services, it is
enhancing the quality of surface transportation networks. It has also launched 2012-2030 Airport
Surface Access strategy to offer suitable transportation systems
London Stansted Airport
This airport is the third biggest airport in London and it is based in Essex. The Stansted
airport is owned and controlled by Manchester Airports Group. In 2011 to 2014 in the World
Airport Awards, Stansted airport was bestowed as the “Best Airport” in the low-cost category. It
has 1 terminal with one runway covering 10,000 feet, which gives it the ability to accommodate
large aircrafts. Since it has extra capacity, it has the ability to accommodate approximately 40 m
travellers yearly (Stansted Airport, 2013). The airport uses cost strategy, which allows it to offer
cost-efficient flight services particularly with low-cost carriers. This contributed to a significant
number of low-cost carriers.
Passenger profile
Stansted airport provides not only charter but also scheduled services and serves about
18m travellers yearly. Additionally, the airport primarily focuses on short-haul destination for
leisure activities in the low-cost category.

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Stansted destinations
The airport caters for more than 150 destinations within United Kingdom and Europe.
Some of its main destination includes Malaga, Belfast, Rome and Alicante. In addition, it
operates 14 airlines while Ryanair is its primary carrier and EasyJet. Again, it is the operating
hub for larger European budget carriers. Other major airlines that operate from this airport
include Air Berlin, and German wings. In 2014, Thomas Cook Airline signed an agreement with
Stansted to provide eight destinations (Stansted Airport, 2014).
Accessing Stansted airport
Its major catchment region is London and expands to north eastern from central parts. In
addition, the catchment area is controlled by East Anglia and Westminster. The airport’s target
market extends to several parts of Midlands while low market covers west and southern parts of
London. It roughly 30 miles from central London that makes it accessible by rail or road.
London Luton airport
It is the fourth largest airport in London located in Bedfordshire. It is also controlled by
London Luton Airport Operations Limited. Moreover, the airport has 1 terminal and 1 runway
working at a capacity of 60 percent (London Luton Airport, 2014). Nevertheless, the terminal
has been differentiated in to 2 levels, for departures and arrivals. Initially, Luton airport used the
strategy of offering various flight services, but it now concentrates on budget carrier services.
The airport is mainly controlled by budget airlines, and it is the operational centre for EasyJet.
Passenger profile

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Luton airport provides charter as well as scheduled services to about 9.7 m travellers
yearly. Furthermore, the airport focuses on budget services for medium as well as short-haul
Luton airport’s destinations
The airport offers charter and scheduled flight services to more than 100 terminuses in
UK, African, Europe and Middle East. Luton airport’s main destinations include Dublin,
Amsterdam, Budapest and Warsaw. Subsequently, it operates nine airlines while Easyjet and
Wizz Air are its biggest carriers. Other airlines operating from Luton airport include Blue Air,
Atlasjet, Thomson airlines and so forth (London Luton Airport, 2012).
Its catchment area is based in the northern part of London and regions in East Midland.
The catchment area is dominated by Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Greater London. The
airport is about 35 miles from central London therefore; it can be accessed by buses, rail and
London City Airport
This is the United Kingdom’s main business airport. It offers flight services to short-haul
destinations especially, the Europe. City airport’s tactic is meeting the requirements of business
clients; this is because it is close to London’s financial centre, city and Canary Wharf.
The airport serves roughly 50 destinations within UK, United Sates and Europe. Some of
the airlines that operate from this airport include CityFlyers, British Airways, City Jet, Blue

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Islands and Aer Arann. Consequently, Flybe signed an agreement with City airport to provide
flight services to Dublin, Belfast and Edinburg (BBC, 2014).
Access to City Airport
The city airport catchment region is in central parts of London. A number of air
movements are concentrated in south east England such as Tower Hamlet, London City, and
Docklands. The airport is located in the centre of the city, thus, well linked by underground
buses, coaches and railway.
London Southend airport
This is not only a new entity but also cost-effective airport that is located in Essex. In
addition, Southend is controlled and managed by Stobart Group. In 2013, Southend airport was
recognized the “Best Airport across UK and also received the European Regions Airline
Association. Southend airport underwent an expansion phase with additional terminal, train
station, runway and control tower (London Southend Airport, 2014). The airport has the ability
to accommodate big airliners with additional capacity to serve about five million travellers
yearly. Its main carrier is EasyJet, a low budget airline. The introduction of budget carriers
contributed to significant growth in air movement at the airport. This airport uses cost strategy
whereby it offers services at competitive charges, which has in turn contributed to future
Passenger profile
The airport provides charter, scheduled and corporate flight services. On the contrary, it
serves approximately 1 million travellers yearly.

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The Southend airport is dominated by EasyJet and Aer Lingus Regional. In addition, this
airport serves fifteen destinations in Europe and United Kingdom. Its main carrier is EasyJet,
which serves fourteen destinations including Barcelona, Berlin, Alicante while Aer Lingus
Regional serves Dublin. In 2014, Sourthend and Flybe airlines signed an agreement to provide
flight services to 6 additional destinations (London Southend Airport, 2014).
The catchment area for Southend is based in Central London and Essex, and regions in
the southern part of London. A number of travellers access the airport by road and railway. In
addition, it has direct rail connecting Liverpool and Stratford (London Southend Airport, 2013).

Part 3
This part presents an analysis of for strategy for the six airports in London put into
account the future growth of air movement.
Multi-airport Structure
This form of system is common in metropolitan setting because it is associated with a
significant degree of traveller traffic and airlines. In some cases, it is related to overlapping
catchment regions. London’s multi-airport structure caters for airline traffic and the people of
London. Again, in Europe, London has a high number of airports to meet the needs of different
customers. Moreover, his structure is effective for London since the airports’ strategic plan to
cater for a certain metropolitan region increases not only revenue but also efficiency. Other
benefits of multi-airport structure include;

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 Reducing traffic in major airports, especially Gatwick and Heathrow
 Offer extra capacity to secondary airports such as City, Luton, Southend and Stansted
 Helps in effective management of air movement and navigation
 Increases efficiency , operation while maximizing operational strength
 Generate revenue while providing social growth of a particular region
However, London multi-airport system contributes to congestion, thus in scenarios where traffic
converges it becomes intricate to manage traffic. It also leads to market segregation that in turn
leads to increased operational expenses per client. For that reason, there is a need to plan and
develop London multi-airport structure for the future growth of the aviation sector. In effect, this
will be import in addressing capacity limitations.
Passenger profile
In the past 4 years London airports served about 135 million travellers, many flew to
different destinations. In addition, these airports are sufficiently linked to Central London,
however, there is less interaction among airports due to inadequate access. In the year 2012,
London airports served approximately 135 million people, traveling to various destinations (Full
Fact, 2013).. As of now, Heathrow and Gatwick airport are the busiest not just in UK but also
across the world. Moreover, these airports are operating at capacity level. The recent appraisals
indicate that by 2030, these airports should be able to operate at 100 percent -capacity (Greater
London Authority, 2013).
London Airports Plan Approval
Airports in London have been able to manage and create an all-inclusive prospective growth
of London aviation business. Nonetheless, the core issue is about realizing significant operation

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capacity for its airports. This is because several propositions were presented to the Airports
Commission, like;
 Building a third runway at Heathrow airport
 Creating the second runway at Gatwick airport
 Constructing an extra airport to the Eastern part of London, referred to as Boris Island
and Thames Hub
However, development projects of Heathrow and Gatwick airports do not look viable as a
result of environmental effect resulting from noise and air quality. Moreover, propositions to
construct an extra airport to operate as a centre come with a litany of challenges; again, this
doesn’t look achievable because of the high cost involved and the protracted timeline for
constructing the project. Again, the entire shift of the airport may easily disrupt the current fiscal
balance and may be too involving (Greater London Authority, 2011).
Based on this backdrop, I recommend a strategy to: Enlarge London’s secondary airports by
augmenting as well as advancing infrastructure and services. To be successful with this strategy,
few requirements should be put in place:
 Diffuse the traffic from the main airports to auxiliary airports. The secondary airports will
be appealing to the airlines and commuters coupled with an appropriate labeling and also
marketing approach.
 Heathrow airport for instance, can redirect short-distance flights to other airports as it
concentrates on long-distance flights
 Augment the transport right of entry with road and rail linkages
 Enhance airport connectivity.

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For the future of UK’s aviation industry, the following proposal may be strategic. The UK
aviation industry ought to expand the road networks, enhance connectivity with upcoming
aviation markets namely Brazil, West Africa, Turkey, Russia, India and China. Meet the
demands of local traffic in terms of geographical locations, passenger profiles and accessibility.
In part one; the paper presented the effects of physical design and capacity restrictions on
London city airports. It was clear that inadequate infrastructure and location are major reasons
for capacity constraints. It also discussed services offered by London city airport and passenger
traffic. The strategic priority of City airport is catering for the needs of business passengers. In
the second part, the paper presented a discussion of the London airports’ competitive strategies.
These airports cater for various markets and different strategies that fall in niche or
differentiation groups. Strategic choices and techniques were categorical following a
comprehensive assessment of passenger traffic, king of service and destinations. In part three,
the paper assessed strategies and techniques for an effective control of multi-airport structure.
This section also recommended some strategies with the goal of future expansion of London’s
aviation sector.

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BBC (2014) Flybe to start London City Airport routes

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