Airports can do better when it comes to sustainability

By Jean Luc Devisscher
1st Sep, 2022

I know the question has a bit of an obvious answer which is and should always be Yes!

Sustainability improvement is a continuous mission to see how airport operations can be done differently keeping in mind how airports can decrease their environmental impact in the widest sense possible.

One of the biggest pollution areas around the airport is without a doubt the airside and apron part, the number of unnecessary movements by vehicles or planes is enormous and the electrification of vehicles is still in its early days so all movements are still largely polluting and in most cases unnecessary.

To understand what is happening in real time at the airport, the airport ideally implements a set of tools that brings a view on when what airplane arrives, where the towing truck will connect, where it is supposed to park and who is supposed to take care of catering, luggage and fueling.

From the moment the plane is parked, an entire chain of events starts, often supported by video analytics at the gate or IoT in the vehicles of the different suppliers so we can be sure that actions are initiated on time and we know what supplier needs what time to get to the plane.

Turn around management of every plane is critical to make sure planes can leave or arrive on time, passengers get a smooth travel experience and KPI’s are met so that operations are profitable for every stakeholder involved and more importantly that every stakeholder understands the impact of what (s)he does on the other. After all, turn around management is about teamwork, it’s like in ballet. You don’t want certain players to start doing a solo if it is not part of the overall composition.

Just like any performance, if all dancers understand their role and are motivated to show their best performance then the entire team will show an excellent performance and get 5 stars from the audience, in this case airport management, passengers and their respective managers.

Sustainability is all about on time performance so less movements are needed by every stakeholder. Of course we can and should go one step further as electrification is critical but so is the avoidance of noise or air pollution.

Pollution needs to be constantly monitored to make sure noise levels are measured so we limit the number of noisy planes to an absolute minimum and guarantee a better spread of these throughout the day and have them park at locations where they have least impact. We also need to measure air pollution to find ways to decrease the overall impact of airport operations (and certain types of planes and vehicles) on the communities living around the airport and prove that efforts are being undertaken to limit the impact.

Sustainability is all about finding new ways to approach not so new things, it’s about questioning that what we do is the right thing to do and how we can make sure that it has less impact. Just like an individual thinking twice about how he will do his shopping or how he can avoid taking the car 3 times to do 3 different things instead of combining it all. At an airport it’s no different, making stakeholders think about how they can reduce the number of unnecessary movements by great planning and up to date data on operations.

To better control your airport operations and stakeholder management but also monitor air and noise pollution, talk to EMMA Systems to find the best solution to optimize your sustainability operations and save time and money while doing it.

Contact us via or and let’s put sustainability to practice.