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Brussels Airport is growing and has ambition!

As an external consultant I have witnessed the development of the airport since 1994 i.e. my first project as an analyst was during nightshifts to launch the baggage handling system of the 'new' terminal which opened in December 1994. Since then the airport managed up's and downs, namely the merger between RLW (public sector) and BATC (private organization), the post 9/11 crisis, the privatization in 2004, impact of the financial crisis,...
Now, the airport is definitely expanding with a focus on charter & low cost companies (Ryanair, Vueling, Thomas Cook,...) and the passenger record have recently been broken: > 20 mln passengers. Yet, apart from the growing passengers, the strategic ambition of the airport is to become the preferred European Hub. This basically means that they will be focusing on transfer passengers. From their 'new' passengers they are attracting, 54% are indeed transfer passengers.

APOC the next step in operational efficiency at the airport

Whereas the airport seems to be a 'rode draad' in mijn carriere', I am extremely excited and proud that I may contribute to the realization of this ambition.
2 years ago, the airport management launched the idea to create an Airport Operation Center (APOC). The purpose of this center is to optimize operational efficiency of the overall airport processes (aircraft, passengers, bags) to serve the overall purpose, namely: maximizing efficiency by which the client leaves the airport on time

The APOC creates the opportunity to bring the different operational partners, i.e. airlines, handling companies, the screening subco and the airport operator, physically together in one room to ease collaboration and data sharing. The goal is to enhance turnaround efficiency and airport passenger experience.

D-day is approaching fast: as from June 1st, an Airport Operations Centre (APOC) will be set up within the Brussels Airport premises.
My initial responsibility, during the concept phase was to create the relationships with the external parties and to make sure that they shared the same ambition and vision concerning the APOC. Not an evident challenge, as most of the parties have their personal commercial interest. Yet, by the end of 2014 all parties were convinced and now they are very enthusiastic to start the APOC.



Collaboration model

Who is going to lead the APOC, was the question by which I was the most confronted with. The answer is: No one.
Due to the complexity of everyday operations, achieving these goals requires close cooperation between all concerned parties That's why we decided to have decisions taken by a collaboration model. The core of this model is to share transparent information/data, to communicate, to coordinate and come together to the actions and decisions in function of the operational efficiency.

Building trust and overcoming resistance

The fact that different parties, with their own (commercial or compliance) mission, will be physically working and communicating together is not evident. In the current context. The first purpose within the APOC Is to create trust and to make everyone aware of the added value of each of the involved partners. Whereas my function will become 'start-up manager' as of June 1st, my main role will be to COACH all of the organizations and individuals and to overcome the change resistance. Next, my main role is to also create structure within the APOC.

The project is extremely exciting and I am proud that Avertim will have an added value to the future of Brussels Airport.

Bart SEUNTJENS
Principal Consultant