Richard Deakin, the chief executive of National Air Traffic Services (NATS), said the introduction of remote technology, sensors and infrared cameras would increase the amount of data air controllers received from flights, The Sunday Times reported.
Controversially, this would in turn allow controllers to prioritise flights at the request of the airlines.
In the UK press this is being described — and chastised — as letting flights with the most elites and premium customers land first.
There’s nothing inherently moral about ‘first come first served’ and while there may be other prioritization rules that offend sensibilities, more information and prioritizing air traffic makes good sense.
Experts have suggested such changes would destroy what has been a basic premise of air traffic management since its inception – that of the first come, first served approach to landing at busy airports.
- Airlines prioritize their own takeoffs now
- There are flights where delays are bigger inconveniences than others.
When American Airlines hosted the oneworld MegaDO three years ago, the event began with an optional European event. At the conclusion everyone on that trip was flying from London to Dallas. American cancelled the flight.
If the concern was social media buzz, or VIPs on board (American had several), they wouldn’t have chosen this one to cancel.
Down a single 777 in London, they knew that if they cancelled their Chicago flight they were actually going to generate a good deal more disruption. Surprisingly, there were a good chunk of passengers on the early London – Chicago flight connecting to Beijing (if I recall correctly) that couldn’t have been reasonably accommodated.
More data is better, and the ability to forecast disruptions makes sense. In general airlines in the US want to inconvenience the fewest number of passengers, and minimize disruption for those they do inconvenience. Put another way, the tendency is to use this data to prioritize in a fairly egalitarian manner.
That’s not how things work in all parts of the world. There are plenty of stories of politically-connected passengers getting air traffic priority in China for instance. But there it’s not the technology, or ability to prioritize, that’s at issue..
(HT: Marginal Revolution)