Pulkovo Airport Develops Simulation
for Airport Business Acumen and Improved Customer Service
Pulkovo Airport is an international airport serving Saint Petersburg, Russia. It consists of one large terminal, employs about 2000 people and serves as a hub for Rossiya Airlines and as focus city for Nordavia. In 2013, 12.9 million passengers traveled through Pulkovo airport, making it the 3rd busiest airport in Russia.
The Pulkovo airport was facing a problem of cross functional cooperation every department thinking they are superior and more important than others. Also many employees didn’t have formal aviation training therefore they didn’t have a big picture of airport operations and didn’t understand how one process influenced others. That resulted in mistakes in decision making, many operational problems, flight delays and financial losses.
Pulkovo approached us in 2011 with a request to develop an airport management simulation reaching the following goals:
To increase the customer focus of the airport’s employees
- To provide a helicopter view to airport management.
- To provide understanding, how the airport makes money.
- To show, how a decision made by any employee has an effect on the airport’s profit.
- >To improve the communication among different functions of the airport, to provide the employees of one function with the understanding of importance of others.
- To let employees experience other roles in the airport.
- To grasp importance of delays– to understand that a delay in one area holds back the next and then the next and results in financial loss to the airport.
We created a simulation game which was unique in its design. When usually simulation participants run the same game engine again and again (several years of operation), this simulation was modular – we created 4 different interlinked modules played sequentially. In the first module participants were building airport, in the second servicing aircraft on ground, in the third playing check-in and in the fourth running security checks and boarding passengers. The game also had 4 absolutely different game engines. First module was physical airport assembly from custom designed plastic assembly kits, second was a boardgame, third and fourth – elaborated role-play games. Financial reports linked all modules together and decisions taken in one module (f.i. number of passengers checked in) directly affected the next (f.i. security checks). Game metaphor was that participants are a mobile management team each year running different airport department.
The game was primary intended for airport front-line employees, mostly for check-in and gate agents, security staff and ground personnel, therefore design emphasis was not that much on different strategy level choices and their financial implications than on experiencing and showing complexity of each major function.
Experience showed that the best learning impact was reached when participants in one group represented different functions. They subsequently played each other’s roles, understood importance of those roles as well as discovered that life in these roles is not at all as easy as it seemed to be.
When the game was finished airport intended to put all 2000+ employees through it in the coming years. Pulkovo also included the simulation in their new hire adaptation program as a part of welcome training, used it for training different levels of airport management as well as a corporate teambuilding tool.
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