Analyzing Airport Capacity by Simulation: A Mexican Case Study

Analyzing Airport Capacity by Simulation: A Mexican Case Study

Catya Zuniga, Miguel Mujica Mota, Alfonso Herrera García
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9779-9.ch007
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Air transportation has grown in an unexpected way during last decades and is expected to increase even more in the next years. Traffic growth tendencies forecast an expansion in the demand and greater aviation connectivity, but also higher workload to the different airspace users, especially for airport and services. Therefore, it is essential to employ strategies designed to use efficiently valuable corporate resource. Airport authorities around the world are investing in large capital projects, including new or improved runways, terminal expansions, and entirely new airports. However, this effort is sometimes limited due to their geographic location. In this work, two main objectives are pursued: first, to highlight the importance of the industry by exposing the current situation and future trends all over the world focusing in the Mexican industry; and second, to introduce a simulation model which can be used as a decision making tool for the upcoming demand. The analysis of the scenarios illustrates how to develop strategies to cope with the different airspace user's needs.
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The air transportation industry plays an essential role for global business and tourism but also in the economic growth worldwide. It enables countries to participate in the global economy by increasing access to international markets and, at the same time, allowing globalization of production, among many other benefits. The air transportation industry is a team effort, each time an airplane is in the air, there is needed a coordination and interaction across a complex chain of partners, from airports, airlines, air navigation service providers (ANSPs), fuel suppliers, ground handlers, systems providers, catering companies, travel agencies, security screeners, and many more.

The air transportation has grown in an unexpected way during last decades and is expected to increase even more in the next years. The industry is wide, and with an innovative and excellent increasing perspective. Investments, business operations and efficiency, around the world are encouraged by air connectivity. The industry is evolving with several organizational and technical restructuring created by the globalization itself, the constant growing economic environment, and the development of new technologies, among other factors.

The first commercial passenger flight took place on January 1st, 1914 with a single passenger on it. Since then, the industry has not stopped growing. Twenty years later, 652 000 passengers were transported on commercial flights, reaching almost 40 million in 1952. Nowadays, around 3.3 billon people are safely transported, see Figure 1. The year of 2014 was outstanding for the transportation industry; passenger traffic as measured by revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) was up nearly 6% than 2013, and capacity was up nearly 5.8%. Lower oil prices were one of the key factors for airlines profits; they accounted around 20 billion USD; but also 2014 was a record year for manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus; over 1490 airplanes were delivered and 3680 were ordered by airlines. The air transportation business activity generated around 2.4 trillion USD.

Figure 1.

Evolution of Passengers carried by airlines Source (IATA, 2014)


In 2014, the air transportation industry generated around of 58 million jobs in the world; around 9 million direct jobs: airlines, air navigation service providers and airports directly employed 7.6 million people. The civil aerospace manufacture sector employed more than 1 million people. It has been accounted more than 9 million indirect jobs generated through purchases of goods and services from companies in their associated supply chain. Furthermore, the tourism is enabled by air transport and it generated around 35 million jobs globally (ATAG, 2012).

During the past decade, 2001-2011, the world economy grew at an average annual rate of 3.6%, measured in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the same period, the total scheduled airline traffic grew at an average annual rate of 5%, reaching around $2.6 billion USD annually in RPK, totaling nearly 5 trillion USD in 2010, and nearly 48 million tons of freight reaching to 172 billion freight ton kilometers (FTK). The total value of goods transported by air in 2011 represented the 35% of all international trade, (ATAG, 2012).

The air transport industry is a complex system, along with its different airspace users, airports, ANSPs, airlines, manufacturers, regulators, and multiple international organizations worldwide. Traffic growth tendencies forecast an expansion in the demand and greater aviation connectivity, even with multiple crises over the years. Unfortunately, higher demand means higher workload to the different airspace users, especially for airport and ANSPs. They are facing new challenges which require that government and industry work together, but with excellent opportunities to share, develop or enhance their capacity (Belobaba, Odoni & Barnhart, 2009), (De Neufville & Odoni, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Facility Design: Ensure a smooth flow of resources such as work, material, or information through a specific space within the system.

Discrete Event Simulation: The process of codifying the behavior of a complex system as an ordered sequence of well-defined events. In this context, an event comprises a specific change in the system's state at a specific point in time.

Commercial Aviation: Aircraft activity licensed by state or federal authority to transport passengers and/or cargo on a scheduled or non-scheduled basis.

Peak Hour: Represents that highest number of operations or passengers during the busiest hour of an average day of a peak month.

Capacity: The airport operating level, expressed as the number of aircraft movements that can occur at an airport over a specified time period.

Terminal Building: That building on an airport which is used in making the transition between surface and air transportation.

Airport Planning and Capacity: Airport planning encompasses capacity, master and regional planning, aviation forecasting, and airspace planning. Activities include providing planning guidance, producing the biennial National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems, developing capacity studies, collecting boarding and cargo data to determine airport categories.

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