The air transport sector is going through an unprecedented crisis forcing airport technical departments to reinvent themselves every day in terms of MMR (Major Maintenance Renewal) decision-making and maintenance.
Previous crises and COVID-19
Air transport has always been resilient in the face of crisis: the oil shock of 1979, the 1st Gulf War, the attacks of September 11, SARS 2003, and the financial crisis of 2008. The sector took between 6 months and 2 years to recover its pre-crisis figures
COVID-19, on the other hand, generates an unprecedented crisis on the air transport sector. The entire industry is hit, from the aircraft manufacturer to the airline, to the airport platforms. IATA (The International Air Transport Association) estimates a 55% decline in passenger ticket sales revenue from airlines compared to 2019 and the ACI (Airports Council International) estimates that the impact of the crisis will be felt until 2021.
Before the crisis, most airports faced the problems of accelerated aging and undercapacity. Now, they have to adapt quickly to imagine MMR and maintenance in the context of overcapacity. Even if the spaces receiving the public are reduced to the strict minimum, the runways are nonetheless open in order to ensure health, freight, or even security missions (diversion airport). Thus, before traffic returns to normal and in this period of uncertainty, airport technical departments will arbitrate spending daily to limit the abysmal loss of revenue.
This must be done around the cost, risk, and opportunity triptych (pillars of the international standard ISO 55000 – asset management).
“The question that the technical manager must answer is the question of the risk of not doing in a crisis context.”
Examples of good practice
Virtuous initiatives have thus emerged. For instance, Schiphol Airport, considering that the period of confinement offered a suitable firing window (opportunity), decided to carry out renovations of airfields, essential for the safety of aircraft (risk), thereby exempting itself from costs generated by operational constraints in occupied sites (cost).
Similarly, Bangkok airport took advantage of this period to carry out heavy maintenance operations on equipment which, in normal times, suffered from high stress (among others on its baggage sorting systems, elevators, escalators, or CTA).
Finally, the ACI has made available a best practice guide to deal with this health crisis, in which it warns airport authorities on the need not to give in to budgetary restriction without considering the risk of each of its maintenance operations.
The tbmaestro teams, by carrying out health audits characterized by the notion of risk not to do, fit perfectly into the decision support tools allowing the arbitration of expenditure budgets related to MMR and maintenance.
Keywords: COVID, MMR, and maintenance, CAPEX, OPEX, airport sector, risk, ISO 55000, asset management
Date of the article: 03/06/2020
Editors: Jean-Baptiste Génin