Market survey for tower control at regional airports

The cost Tower control at Dutch civil airports is currently financed through a “One group of Airports (OGA)” system. With this system a 100% user based cost recovery is realized at the level of all airports together, but not at the level of the individual airport. The Dutch government has the intention to change the OGA system by 2020, with the objective of a full cost recovery per airport. Each airport shall be made responsible for the cost of its tower control service and will get more room to attract innovative solutions for this service from the market.

In 2016 MovingDot, together with Rebel Group, conducted a market study, commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment. The main purpose of this survey was to gain understanding in the potential for cost savings, innovation and customization at the regional airports Groningen Airport Eelde and Maastricht Aachen Airport.

Currently the national provider LVNL delivers the ATC services at these airports by a two-headed shift for a tower (TWR) and approach (APP) control combination.

During the survey several options were studied, like introduction of market forces for tower control and centralization of the LVNL approach control, or market forces for the TWR/APP combination. Also the potential for more tailor made service level, varying with traffic demand during the day, was studied.


Main conclusion of the survey was that separation of TWR and APP control, provided by two different parties, does not bring cost savings for the TWR control at the two airports, as the efficiency gains of the current combination will be lost. Cost savings will only be possible with public tendering of the combined TWR and APP service. In addition it became clear that infrastructure (like CNS and housing) should be kept outside the tender.

Quantitative estimation of the cost saving potential showed to be difficult because of the unequal situation compared with experiences elsewhere in Europe. In the past years the current provider (LVNL) already realized substantial cost savings at its Regional Unit, notably in labour costs and productivity.

The study also showed that innovations like remote tower will not yet bring cost savings at these airports within the intended timescale.

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Engbert Hofstee

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