Flying larger planes
Traffic has consistently decreased since year 2011 whereas the number of passengers has kept on growing, showing that the passenger load factor of airlines operating in Paris-CDG has significantly improved. In the meantime, the change in aircraft operators’ business model looking for continuous increase in revenue passenger mile has led them to slowly rationalise the use of mid-size narrow bodied aircraft. The advent of even larger planes (A380 increasing operations on major European airports being a strong symbol) combined with streamlined seat arrangement policies may also be considered as root causes of such phenomenon.
However, large carriers operating at capacity constrained airports can potentially impact airport efficiency due to their wake vortex specificities and need for particular separations to be provided both on arrival and on departure. Paris CDG is a striking example of how runway throughput can be disrupted by a heterogeneous traffic mix particularly during the busiest peak hour.
Seasonality at Paris CDG, the new marker
Seasonal effects are starting to hit Paris-CDG alongside with all of DSNA’s regional airports and en route centers. Winters are quieter as summers have become busier, highlighting the need for human resources adaptability to cope with this new demand in air transport.
Traffic structure of Hub operations in Paris CDG
Paris-CDG is the main hub for Air France. Its traffic is characterized by six concentrated waves of aircraft including two more significant peaks of arrivals and departures in the morning. These two peaks concentrate most of the capacity issues Paris-CDG has to face. A hub system holds risks for airlines and airports, terminal area congestion being at the top the list. The morning peak efficiency is key to Paris-CDG development as it ideally ensures airlines’ first rotations of the day.
The most noticeable peak is known as P2 and usually starts at 0745 in the morning to end at 0915. The demand is high and can occasionally exceed Paris-CDG’s programmed capacity (i.e. 73 arrivals per hour). When this is the case, an arrival regulation has to be implemented and delays start building up.
Besides, the P2 traffic mixes large carriers from Asia or America with medium size planes from all major European cities, leading to complex compatibility as regards wake turbulence separations. It constitutes one of the identified difficulties for any capacity increase in the years to come.
Improving runway throughput by making more capacity available during peak hours is addressed through the timely implementation of the CDG2020 projects.