Airport Operators

Reducing passenger queue times using robust Lean planning techniques​

Airport Operators

Reducing passenger queue times using robust Lean planning techniques​

The UK’s fastest-growing post-COVID airport faced challenges due to rising passenger numbers, security staffing issues, and media scrutiny due to expansion plans.

Develop Consulting were tasked to enhance passenger throughput through two phases: resetting planning and performance expectations, and improving daily performance with process enhancements.

This involved tool improvements, refining planning algorithms, and better team communication. Weekly meetings analysed demand versus capacity, while daily meetings intensified cross-functional collaboration and fostered continuous improvement. Process enhancements included coaching for supervisors and optimisation of open lanes


  • Savings and revenue creation in excess of £250k for August
  • 48% reduction in SLA queue breaches
  • Reduced dwell time for passengers in security by 5 minutes across the whole day
  • 7% increase of tray throughput across the day
  • 50% reduction in lane count being under forecast
  • Robust and visible performance measures demonstrating improvements
  • Improved accuracy of demand vs capacity planning to allow roster amendments to be made in a timely manner
  • ROI of 5:1


The UK’s fastest growing post-covid airport faced a challenging situation with increasing passenger numbers and a growing need for throughput through its central security search area. This situation was compounded by several factors, including the central search security company’s inability to meet budgeted headcount and having a significant number of inexperienced staff during peak passenger periods. Anticipated growth in summer passenger numbers further escalated the pressure.

Additionally, there was a heightened focus on eliminating long queues, resulting in a 7% increase in the tray throughput required by the SLA to drive continuous improvement. The airport was also under intense media scrutiny due to winning planning permission for future expansion, adding to the pressure.


In response, our team was tasked with building upon our previously successful work to increase passenger throughput. This project involved two phases: first resetting planning and performance expectations, and secondly, enhancing daily performance through root- cause analysis and process improvements.


Resetting planning and performance expectations
Develop Consulting improved existing tools, refined input calculations, and established more effective communication channels. Weekly operations meetings with the security provider and the airport were used to analyse forecasted demand versus capacity for six weeks ahead, allowing for the resolution of potential risks. Rostering was adjusted to align with forecasted demand, and daily meetings with cross-functional stakeholders were intensified to review and improve daily performance. This instilled a continuous improvement mindset and promoted embedded improvements throughout the organisation.

Process improvement
We supported performance enhancements during all operating times, including the morning peak and afternoon wave. The supervisors and management teams received coaching to positively impact lane performance, increasing overall throughput. Accountability was heightened to enable swift decision making and address underperforming areas. We optimised the number of open lanes to facilitate team training, including huddle sessions. These huddles were structured to enhance two-way communication between supervisors and agents, resulting in higher quality events. Additionally, a clear timetable with a three-week outlook ensured consistent communication among team members.

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