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Real-time data to help cut Heathrow delays

Press Association logoPress Association 5/10/2016 Neil Lancefield

Airline passengers likely to miss a connecting flight could be moved to a later departure under a system designed to reduce delays at Heathrow airport.

The program, which was trialled at the west London hub in July, uses real-time data to assess passenger movements in a bid to cut flight disruption.

It can also be used to predict what time travellers will arrive at passport check points to decrease the likelihood of long queues.

The decision on whether passengers should have their flight connections altered would be made by airlines.

Tom Garside, head of integrated planning and performance at Heathrow, said: "This study has demonstrated how the latest analytical techniques, using real-time data, can be used to improve the experience of connecting passengers, and to support aircraft punctuality.

"We are now looking at how we deploy this approach into live operations and to apply similar techniques to other airport processes."

Bert de Reyck, director of the school of management at University College London, who is leading the development of the system, warned that disruption at Heathrow can have knock-on effects across Europe.

"Heathrow handles more than 75 million passengers per year," he said.

"With more than a quarter of all passengers landing in Heathrow making a flight transfer, any interruption causes further delays not only throughout the day, but throughout the entire European network as the airport is a major hub for connecting flights.

"That's why Heathrow is making sure that all processes are optimised."

The system, which has not been named, was commissioned by European aviation agency Eurocontrol as part of a project to overhaul the continent's airspace and air traffic management.

Figures from the FlightStats website show that almost one in four (24 per cent) flights from Heathrow was delayed by at least 15 minutes last month, with the average hold-up being 39 minutes.

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