Skip to main content
European Commission logo

THEmatic Network on Airport Activities

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Network corridors
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Airborne icon
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

Air passenger transport in Europe has risen significantly, causing an increase in departures in major European domestic and regional markets, which in return produced its effects on the airport's capacity. In order to provide solutions for the current situation, a substantial number of research activities in all relevant areas have been launched, both at national and European levels. Within this framework, it is essential to create and develop a co-ordination and collaboration environment for airport activities in order to gain transparency and effectiveness in the development of the projects.


The main objective of the THEmatic Network on Airport Activities (THENA) is to create and develop a coordination and collaboration environment for airport activities in order to gain transparency and effectiveness in the development of projects related to this issue.

THENA aims at providing a focal point for collaboration between the different programmes where the stakeholders involved in airport operations will have the chance to meet and exchange opinions and points of view. This outcome will contribute substantially and effectively to the improvement of coordination and the avoidance of redundancy between completed and ongoing projects in the airport domain. In addition, some recommendations are inferred from the conferences organised and from the analysis done by the consortium.

Specifically, the THENA main objectives are to:

  • Provide a focal point for collaboration between the different programmes where the ATM stakeholders can meet and exchange views on airport activities.
  • Ensure that the exchange of information on airport activities is conducted efficiently and effectively, in order to avoid internal redundancy (disruptive overlapping) of work and help concentrate on straightforward objectives for each of the already running or future projects, related to both airside and landside airport operations.
  • Explore issues not yet covered by the R&D projects and propose recommendations for new R&D projects and/or on the need for complementary standardisation activities that could foster a potential industrial application.

To achieve these objectives, THENA was organised and implemented around the major airport issues and most challenging research areas pertaining to the airport domain studies and decision making needs. These areas relate to:

  1. Capacity and Efficiency,
  2. Safety,
  3. Policy and Regulations,
  4. Simulation and Modelling,
  5. Information Systems / Technologies, and
  6. Environmental Impacts.

This allowed consortium members to tackle the issues and research fields according to their expertise and experience, thus greatly facilitating co-ordination, achievement of research synergies, and harmonised integration of results. The partnership of the THENA Consortium consists of 14 partners from 6 countries (see the contacts tab). It includes the air service providers Aena and DFS (the former also manages airports), the aerospace research institutes NLR and Onera, the Athens University of Economics and Business (Transportation Systems and Logistics Laboratory) and the University of Padova (Department of Pure and Applied Mathematics), the manufacturer of ATC and airport systems THALES ATM, the economic institute NEI, the transport consultants Ineco, Isdefe, Fedespace (non-profit organisation) and Slot Consulting, and the airlines Transavia (partially) and Martinair. The partners largely cover the range of skills required to perform the work of the project.

The organisational approach followed to reach the objectives of the project was threefold:

  • Organisation of six working groups on the identified subject areas, which were identified as most important in the airport domain. These working groups allowed sharing and disseminating information and, most importantly, identifying research voids and gaps as directions for future and fertile research fields.
  • Organisation of three dissemination workshops where, independent of the members of the consortium, appropriate experts presented different subjects related to the airport field. All the participants were invited to actively participate in the discussions which took place during the workshops in order to improve information dissemination.
  • Design a web site where it will be possible to find all the information related to airport projects, together with the results from the different working groups and workshops (documents, working papers, agendas for future meetings and so on). Moreover, this web site allows a day-to-day exchange of data among all the inv


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


Further research is recommended in airport CDM (Collaborative Decision Making) applications, its further implementation and wide harmonised adoption. In a simple way, CDM addresses information sharing to allow stakeholders to receive the right information needed in good time for their operations, to efficiently utilise the airport capacity in a collaborative decision making environment between ATC, aircraft, ATFM, handlers and airport operations. In other words, what information needs to be where and when, and who is better positioned to make decisions.

The complexities implicated in airport operations can be mainly attributed to the abundance of stakeholders involved in or affected by the airport operations. The various airport stakeholders represent different airport management and planning perspectives, while, in some cases, exhibiting conflicting objectives. Certainly, they are all interested, though to in different degrees, in increasing airport throughput and other performances without compromising certain measures of airport effectiveness. However, they justify it from different viewpoints, propose different means, and eventually recognise different compromises or priorities.

CDM applications must be developed in conjunction with other ATM innovative ideas in order to be consistent, as the System Wide Information Management (SWIM) concept, which has to be investigated in detail and exploited in the aeronautical world. In addition, there is a need to pursue a social dialogue among all relevant stakeholders with the purpose of building consensus and establishing a close collaboration environment to promote the efficiency of airport and air transport operations under the prism of regulations/policies, technologies, management and strategic planning, as well as operations. A wide dissemination of the benefits in term of capacity, punctuality and efficiency, gained through a proper information exchange, will improve the willingness from the different stakeholders to make their information available.

In the short term, effort should be concentrated on enhancement of current procedures and the application of CDM principles to the current practices. In the long term, studies should address implementation of new applications. To give an example, the replacement of the 'first come first served' process by an alternative CDM procedure based on 'first on time, first served' would require negotiation of the off block time fulfilling restrictions of all involved actors and ensuring it allows the ai

Policy implications

The identified voids and gaps of the literature and the state-of-practice in the airport domain in conjunction with the understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the existing models/ tools, technologies, and operational practices point to the need and provide ample empirical and research justification for directing the major thrust of future research activities in the following directions:

  • Development of seamlessly integrated computational facilities that will be able to support high-level political decisions (with focus on strategic-level decision making) related to airport (including both airside and land side) planning and operations with respect to a variety of measures of airport effectiveness, i.e. capacity, delay, level of service, noise, safety.
  • Development of models and tools that will be capable of monitoring and quantifying the implications and effectiveness of various types of demand management strategies or capacity expansion measures on the airport operations.
  • Enhancement of model / tool capabilities in tracking the trade-offs and running 'what-if' scenarios based on alternative decisions on airport parameters and performance metrics (e.g. impacts from the introduction of new ATC standards on capacity and delays, implications of new safety standards on throughput capacity).
  • Development of models and tools capable of performing various airport analyses in the airport network level (i.e. system optimum) as compared to a single airport level in view of the emerging Single European Sky (e.g. implementability/feasibility of connections due to propagated delays or slot swaps).
  • Development of models and tools capable of implementing alternative slot allocation mechanisms and assigning slots according to various stated criteria, operational rules and priorities in the light of the new European Regulation on Slot Allocation by 2003.
  • Existing airport-related models and tools should be enhanced and supported from are presentation / user-friendliness, and interface point of view, while also respecting operational consistency / proper functioning of the models per se.
  • Adoption, implementation, and assessment of operational benefits derived from the introduction of new surface management concepts (e.g. A-SMGCS).
  • Modernisation and harmonization of ATC procedures directly addressing en route capacity and congestion problems.
  • Promotion and adoption of Collaborative Decision Making as a


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


Contribute! Submit your project

Do you wish to submit a project or a programme? Head over to the Contribute page, login and follow the process!