Optimal Runway counts per Passenger Traffic

Hi Fellow CEOs!
It’s me again (yay!), asking another question from the veterans here. Recently while building another airport, im wondering, how a single runway airport, especially my home airport of Juanda, handles the exact same number of passengers (~20 millions) as three or even four runway airports, like Tampa Int’l? And while maybe single runway airports is maybe inefficient, i rarely get delays here. So… how few runways is too few per million passengers and how much runways is too much? Is it better to have more or less? Does AirportCEO consider this?

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Could it be wind-shift? When an airport has a very low number of changes in wind direction, there can be a very high landing frequency. The other way around; if their is a lot changes, there has to be time to adjust time paths.

Secondly, the ground infra of an airport will give the opportunity to increase or decrease volume on your airport. For example; Schiphol airport has not enough Taxi Parking spots atm, so, Schiphol has trouble dealing with harmonica effects in queues.

About delays; most delays are due to ground-related problems I suspect, outside of weather reasons. We have several related problems in A-CEO already.

If an airport is a hub, or just an endpoint, makes the airport a very different logistical problem. (see Hub and Spoke networks). What in turn will have consequences on throughput times of a flight-slot-combo.

Some airport have landings every 30s on a runway, the thing is; if groundwork cannot handle queues on such volumes or ground-services cant handle that, the runway is not leading in the differences of handling traffic.


I think there are a lot of other factors to consider as well. Some airports are just better padded for demand (or has excess demand). So for example, Tampa may have 3 runways but may not need them. My guess is, that they have room and slots to grow capacity significantly before they start noticing constraints, whereas Juanda might be much closer to it.

Some airports are also only able to operate all their runways in certain optimal conditions etc. E.g. my home airport of MEL has two intersecting runways, but sometimes wind conditions mean that only one can be used (hence they are making plans to build a third). Also the second runway isn’t long enough for certain operations in certain conditions either.

So I think there are tonne of different factors that complicate and change things based on a range of other factors as @jasperwillem has pointed out.


Ah, that’s explained it well…Thanks!
But is there an optimal runway count per passenger/aircraft movements? Disregarding the factor, there should be atleast an average, isn’t it?

Once again going back to wind. Some airports near large bodies of water, have runways running perpendicular to the water, this allows winds every day to shift in and out as the land and ocean switch up which is hotter and which is colder. This makes no need for more runways as they are constant in wind directions.

Guess, passenger volume isn’t the main criteria for the number of runways.

For example refering to (German) Wikipedia:
London-Heathrow has only two runways, while it has the largest passenger volume in Europe and the sixth-largest in the world. Second largest passenger volume in Europe is in Paris-Charles de Gaulle which has four runways, Amsterdam-Schiphol, which is placed third in Europe and eleventh worldwide, has even six runways.

There are much more important physical conditions, like wind conditions (which are already mentioned in this topic). Aircrafts also have to keep some minimum time/distance between landings due to wake turbulences which differ in relation to size and order of the landing aircrafts. Even the distance between parallel runways influences the throughput. If distance is to low, even a second parallel runway still doesn’t double the throughput.

So everything related to wind and a safe approach of the aircrafts is the most important factor for the throughput of an runway as wind results in uplift (force) which aircrafts rely on.

Then there is still the design of the construction on the ground which has influences (like already mentioned in this topic too). Passenger throughput can’t be higher than allowed by the weakest link in the chain.

… and don’t forget, cargo planes need to land too while they do not transport passengers. :wink:
… GA flight’s most likely have a low passenger number too, but the aircrafts still need to land.

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