The implications of travel time uncertainty on the operational efficiency of airport
terminals have until now not been examined. With the forecast growth in congestion
levels predicted for all modes of transport, not only will travel time uncertainty increase
but its impact may increase also.
The first part of this thesis covers the analysis of two passenger surveys conducted at
Manchester Airport and Birmingham Airport. These surveys had the objective of
providing evidence to support or dispute the belief that air travellers react to travel time
uncertainty. The research identifies that passengers do react by allowing margins of
safety for their access journeys, and that this change in behaviour will modify the arrival
distribution patterns at airports. The second part of this thesis examines how airport
passenger flows could be altered by a change in the arrival distribution of originating
passengers at airport terminals. Three airports - Manchester, Birmingham and East
Midlands International - are modelled using a simulation tool and tested to assess how
a shift in arrival distribution affects queuing and peak passenger volumes within the
The findings of this thesis show that airport passenger terminal operational efficiency is
affected by access journey time uncertainty. It also identifies that passenger decision
making can only be explained by various combinations of factors. Possible methods of
minimising the effects of travel time uncertainty are considered. The advantages and
disadvantages of access journey time uncertainty for airports and airlines are
discussed. It concludes that, to be successful in overcoming negative aspects, both
parties must provide a service that results in customer satisfaction. This is the only sure
way to maintain their respective revenue levels and secure their future in what is
becoming an increasingly competitive industry.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.