Centre for Economic Transformation| CET

Air taffic management during rare events such as a pandemic

Paris Charles de Gaulle case study


Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport was the second European airport in terms of traffic in 2019, having transported 76.2 million passengers. Its large infrastructures include four runways, a large taxiway network, and 298 aircraft parking stands (131 contact) among three terminals.

With the current pandemic in place, the European air traffic network has declined by −65% flights when compared with 2019 traffic (pre-COVID-19), having a severe negative impact on the aviation industry. More and more often taxiways and runways are used as parking spaces for aircraft as consequence of the drastic decrease in air traffic. Furthermore, due to safety reasons, passenger terminals at many airports have been partially closed.

In this work we want to study the effect of the reduction in the physical facilities at airports on airspace and airport capacity, especially in the Terminal Manoeuvring Area (TMA) airspace, and in the airport ground side. We have developed a methodology that considers rare events such as the current pandemic, and evaluates reduced access to airport facilities, considers air traffic management restrictions and evaluates the capacity of airport ground side and airspace. We built scenarios based on real public information on the current use of the airport facilities of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and conducted different experiments based on current and hypothetical traffic recovery scenarios. An already known optimization metaheuristic was implemented for optimizing the traffic with the aim of avoiding airspace conflicts and avoiding capacity overloads on the ground side.

The results show that the main bottleneck of the system is the terminal capacity, as it starts to become congested even at low traffic (35% of 2019 traffic). When the traffic starts to increase, a ground delay strategy is effective for mitigating airspace conflicts; however, it reveals the need for additional runways

Reference Scala, P., Mujica Mota, M., & Delahaye, D. (2021). Air taffic management during rare events such as a pandemic: Paris Charles de Gaulle case study. Aerospace, 8(6), Article 155. https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace8060155

Publication date

Jan 2021


Paolo Scala
Daniel Delahaye


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