Total Cost of Ownership: Predictability in Airport Operations

By Jean Luc Devisscher
27th April, 2021

As we are slowly moving into the new normal, we can be certain that some things will never be what they were before COVID-19. The old ways often led to a lot of last-minute changes just to be able to cope with traffic that expanded so fast over the course of the last decade(s) or stakeholder decisions that often changed at the last minute.

Similar to our personal lives where we often have the feeling that our life gets lived and not that we decide how to live it, this was a good reflection of how some airports needed to cope, go from one day to the other and struggle with a lot of last-minute changes, delays, unavailability of data, etc. This lack of predictability automatically led to a lot of unexpected costs as not everything could be foreseen. We never really took the time to revisit certain aspects of airport operations.

In the new normal, we can buy more time to adapt, to make predictable what was considered unpredictable before and to agree on a concept where all stakeholders clearly commit to a uniform way of working. Now we have the time (but not for long) to rethink how we can better manage arrivals & departures along with what is needed to ensure that we have a clear process related to what happens, when & how it happens and by whom. This also involves having the right tools to connect all the dots and make the right analysis.

This is where it often goes wrong: not having the right data and when we have it, not having the tools to analyze them and make the necessary predictions. It is those predictions that all parties need in order to be prepared for smooth operations, not once but all the time (24/7). Predictability is key to manage a full cost of ownership and everyone that has ever acquired software solutions knows that this is where the biggest challenge lies. You get a good quote for any solution but once implemented, what you thought was fixed or included is no longer valid for specific requests or changes.

With many airports having to think twice before they spend, it is no longer feasible that IT providers get a free hand to add unforeseen costs as we go. Total cost of ownership means having a clear view on your spend and how to manage it. This process needs to be - more than ever - predictable just like your airport operations.

When our team started to develop EMMA’s A-CDM approach, we wanted to be different and develop a solution that offered predictability. With the extreme flexibility of the platform, it is easy to integrate new sources of information and understand how these new sources could be used along with the data that is critical to make operations predictable using our AI expertise. How we can mix flexibility with predictability in costings was another challenge. This led us to build an A-CDM solution that could easily be expanded and updated with new data sources in just a few weeks. The way the application was developed makes it very simple to define the full cost of ownership.

Just as airport operations need to be predictable, so do IT solutions. We started working in a SaaS model with fixed costs per movement. This allows any airport to understand the full cost at any time and understand the impact on new data sources to the A-CDM set up. In addition to that, most functions can be easily handled and updated by the designated owners at the stakeholder side which makes A-CDM more transparent and more accurate than ever before.

Total cost of ownership does not need to be a guidance. Similar to airport operations, it should be clear and predictable at all times.