In 2022, Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN) recorded strong growth in its two major pillars: cargo and passenger traffic. Despite last year’s geopolitical tensions, the airport was able to keep its numbers at a very high level, almost similar to 2021, with 971,000 tonnes of air cargo throughput and around 40,000 freighter movements. On the passenger side, traffic numbers more than doubled with over 8.8 million people travelling through Cologne Bonn Airport.
The airport and its local community expect another significant expansion of its air traffic in 2023. This growth does not come without operational challenges, with the airport implementing numerous measures to cope with its increasing traffic, while enhancing the overall quality level of its entire operations.
A new control centre for airport operations
Right on time, before the start of the summer schedule, a new Airport Operations Control Centre (AOCC) began live operations in March 2023. In the new control centre, built in just a few months at a cost of €5 million, all central operational processes at the airport are brought together and controlled on a 24/7 basis. The main task is to centrally plan, control and monitor all processes relating to flight management, passengers and cargo, from arrival to departure.
The 500 sq m control room has 24 work stations for internal and external staff and a 15-metre-wide video wall comprising of 20 screens. Across there, all the information relevant to airport operations, such as weather, special airport apps, news, etc, is shown.
Decision-makers from various departments across the airport are on site around the clock, including staff from traffic management, the traffic control centre, baggage handling, ground handling.
Partners and service providers responsible for or involved in processes, including the federal police, security service providers, handling companies and cargo operators are also represented in the new AOCC, bringing collaboration closer than ever before.
“The AOCC is the modern centrepiece of the airport. Collating all information and ensuring short decision-making paths guarantee that airport operations and processes are optimised and efficiently controlled – even, for example, during severe weather events,” Thilo Schmid, Chairman of the Board of Flughafen Köln/Bonn GmbH, said. Further goals of the AOCC include achieving more efficient processes and stability in operations, guaranteeing the optimal use of resources and capacities, as well as increasing punctuality and customer satisfaction.
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Operational excellence for cargo carriers
On the cargo side, the airport has invested in numerous initiatives to enhance the operational processes and ensure safe, reliable and punctual handling of shipments. A dedicated operational excellence team manages all quality measures for cargo carriers and supervises the overall handling performance on site. This includes safeguarding an efficient and spoilage-free process for special cargo, such as pharmaceutical, perishables and dangerous goods.
It supports airlines, forwarders, brokers, shippers, etc. with 24/7 call-on-duty emergency response, documentation, airport handling, authority approvals, as well as general supervision.
As well-trained animal welfare advisers, the team takes care of all animals being shipped via Cologne Bonn Airport with special care, respect and attention.
CGN’s dedicated cargo operations team also covers the management of heavy and project cargo loads, coordinating handling agents, the airline, various airport departments, heavy-duty transporters and the crane company. As the single point of contact for all requests linked to charter flights, the operations team is ensuring a smooth and reliable on-time operation by accompanying the entire turnaround. Additionally, they organise the approval of crane loading, ensure punctual security checks and determine the ideal route for moving the consignments to the aircraft stands.
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Improving flows for passengers
The airport has also implemented various measures to improve the operational stability and journey on the passenger side.
By summer, the central boarding card checks at the start of passenger screening in Terminal One will have been extended. To improve passenger flow and increase capacity, the number of “e-gates” will be increased to four. In doing so, separate access will be created at the boarding pass checks for passengers and for users of the new service “CGNGateWay”, which allows the pre-booking of a fixed time slot for security checks. There are also access routes for people with limited mobility and a fast lane.
In the area in front of security, a digital guidance system will be installed to automatically channel passenger into their respective streams. The airport has also installed eight more automatic bag drop machines allowing passengers of Eurowings to hand in their luggage independently.