64 games, 147 goals and 3,357 extra flights

Posted: 11 September 2006 | Thomas Klein, Head of ATM Operations and Capacity Planning, DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH | No comments yet

Thirty-two teams comprising players, trainers and support staff, 12,000 journalists, thousands of VIPs and several million fans were expected in Germany for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. All of them had to be transported safely and punctually – at the busiest time of the year in terms of tourist travel in Germany.

Thirty-two teams comprising players, trainers and support staff, 12,000 journalists, thousands of VIPs and several million fans were expected in Germany for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. All of them had to be transported safely and punctually – at the busiest time of the year in terms of tourist travel in Germany.

This was a logistical challenge, particularly for the air transport industry and the air navigation services. DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH responded in due time by establishing a DFS World Cup Coordination Team. Together with airlines, airports and security authorities, the Coordination Team developed a concept to ensure a safe and orderly flow of air traffic during this special event.

It was not possible to make reliable assumptions about the additional traffic to be expected in Germany’s airspace during the World Cup before the start of the tournament. By 9 May 2006, the Airport Coordinator of the Federal Republic of Germany had received notifications for 3,357 additional flights in connection with the World Cup. This was an enormous increase over the previous weeks. At that time, the airports were expecting this number to increase further again, an assumption which was proved right. It was presumed, however, that additional World Cup flights would only have a slight impact on the overall traffic volume.

General considerations

Even though it was hard to quantify the effects that the World Cup 2006 would have on air traffic in concrete figures, some general aspects could be taken into consideration beforehand.

The last World Cup in Japan and Korea in 2002 had shown that it is difficult to make accurate forecasts. With 2.7 million visitors, the 64 matches were well attended. But some of the developments had not been anticipated.

The Japanese stadiums were filled, but mainly with domestic football fans. According to the Japanese tourist board, Japan recorded an increase of 60,000 foreign visitors over the previous month during the World Cup. The additional tourists came mainly from Europe, while Asian tourism declined significantly. According to an article in the German newspaper Handelsblatt, South Korea had been expecting 640,000 visitors from abroad – but the actual number was just 450,000.

FIFA says that German stadiums, if filled to capacity, would accommodate 3.5 million fans during the World Cup. The FIFA Organising Committee expected a total of ten million visitors, including one million from abroad, but not all of them would be travelling by air.

Distribution of traffic increases

The DFS Coordination Team for the World Cup expected a high traffic increase (roughly 60 flights per match) for about ten per cent of the matches; this concerned mainly the opening match and the final. Medium traffic increases of around 40 additional flights per match were expected in the case of 30 per cent of the games. In 60 per cent of them, low traffic increases were anticipated, amounting to about 20 additional flights per match. Business aviation was also expected to generate more traffic.

Different aspects

Fan traffic

There were a number of factors related to fan travel that we were unable to take into account since they were difficult to anticipate. We had to consider, for example, that prominent teams with large numbers of supporters might be knocked out of the tournament unexpectedly in the group games. This happened to the favourites Argentina and France in the 2002 World Cup and to Germany and Italy at Euro 2004 in Portugal. Such cases would also affect the travel behaviour of larger fan groups who would probably leave earlier.

The behaviour of fans arriving without entrance tickets was also difficult to predict. The slogan of the English Football Association was “Be with your team”. We had to expect thousands of English fans without entrance tickets to travel to the venues just to be where their team was playing. We assumed that most of them would travel by plane. According to the German National Tourist Board, air travel is the most popular mode of transport for British travellers, accounting for a share of 80 per cent.

Fans from neighbouring countries, such as Poland, the Czech Republic, France and Holland, were expected to travel by car. The air navigation services in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, for example, did not predict a higher air traffic volume.

At the airports in Stuttgart and Munich, a number of well-to-do football fans were expected to arrive in small and even large private aircraft, but the number of such flights was hard to predict.

Team charter

We knew that the Spanish team would almost always be accompanied by a second aircraft, carrying a group of some 100 journalists who travel with the team.

The Brazilian team was the only one to plan a change of quarters after qualifying for the second round. They moved from Königstein near Frankfurt, to Bergisch Gladbach near Cologne. This meant that the team charter services used Cologne/Bonn Airport instead of Frankfurt Airport, which also affected the travel behaviour of their fans.

Situation at the airports

The airports at the World Cup venues and in their vicinity predicted increases in aircraft movements and passenger volume during the FIFA World Cup.

According to Lufthansa, the team charter it was awarded by FIFA comprised 300 flights for the group games; further information could not be provided in advance. The large number of passengers was to be dealt with by increasing the passenger load factor and by extending the flight schedule (by means of additional World Cup flights). Accordingly, more passengers were expected for scheduled and charter flights during the World Cup, but while it was not possible to give a specific estimate, the increase was not considered to be problematic.

DFS World Cup Coordination Team

DFS established a Coordination Team to deal with all issues concerning the air navigation services and air transport during the FIFA World Cup. This team was set up in May 2005 – more than a year before the World Cup kicked off. From then on, the team was in permanent contact with the airports, the airlines, the Ministries of Transport, the Interior and Defence as well as the federal and regional security authorities. It also conferred with Eurocontrol’s European Central Flow Management Unit (CFMU) in Brussels and the Airport Coordinator of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The Coordination Team had its office at the DFS Headquarters in Langen. Each control centre assigned two staff members to the Coordination Team to act as contact persons.

The DFS World Cup Coordination Team set up a telephone hotline and a central e-mail address for all general questions concerning the World Cup. There was also a CFMU hotline for operational issues.

Before the World Cup, the DFS Coordination Team organised two meetings with partners and customers of DFS to exchange information and coordinate further proceedings.

At the first meeting on 24 January 2006 at the Air Navigation Services Academy in Langen, DFS experts discussed the expected impacts of the 2006 FIFA World Cup on air traffic and air navigation services in Germany with numerous representatives of airlines, airports, Eurocontrol, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs and FIFA.

A second meeting took place at the Air Navigation Services Academy on 9 May 2006. In cooperation with the Customer Relations Management department of DFS, the Coordination Team invited international customers and partners of DFS. Those present included the Air Traffic Control Services Safety Coordinator of the National Air Policing Centre, as well as representatives of numerous international airlines, the air navigation services organisations of several neighbouring countries, the German Airports’ Association (ADV), the Board of Airline Representatives in Germany (BARIG) and Eurocontrol’s Central Flow Management Unit (CFMU).

During the World Cup itself, additional air traffic controllers were mostly scheduled during the early mornings and late evenings. The individual DFS air traffic control units scheduled their staff in line with the relevant traffic requirements.

Restricted areas for VFR flights

In order to prevent hazards to public safety and order during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the Federal Ministry of Transport established restricted areas for flights under visual flight rules (VFR). This led to certain restrictions concerning the usability of individual airports. There were two types of restricted areas: 3-NM areas and 30-NM areas.

The 3-NM areas, with a radius of three nautical miles and an upper limit of up to 5,000 feet were activated for the specified time periods upon publication in the German-language publication “Nachrichten für Luftfahrer”.

Flight restrictions in the 3-NM areas only applied to VFR traffic. Exempt from flight restrictions were police flights and mission flights by the German Bundeswehr, rescue flights and special FIFA OC flights, which obtained prior clearance from the competent police authority.

3-NM areas were activated around the venues of all of the 64 matches. The restrictions took effect three hours before each game and ended three hours after a game was scheduled to finish.

The 30-NM areas, with a radius of 30 nautical miles and an upper limit of up to 10,000 feet, were activated on a short-term basis between 9 June and 9 July depending on the security situation, but always with a lead time of 24 hours.

The Federal Criminal Police Office prepared a hazard analysis for each game and made recommendations to the Ministries of the Interior of the relevant German States on the basis of these. The Ministries of the Interior based their decisions on these recommendations. DFS then published the activation periods. 30-NM areas were only activated three times.

During the activation periods, the restrictions for VFR flights were valid from 1.5 hours before the start of the game until 1.5 hours after the end of the game. Exempt from flight restrictions were, as for the 3-NM areas, police flights and mission flights by the German Bundeswehr, rescue flights and special FIFA OC flights, which obtained prior clearance from the competent police authority.

Flights under instrument flight rules

During the World Cup, IFR flights to coordinated airports always required an airport slot. Airlines were threatened with fines of up to ?50,000 for flights arriving at coordinated airports without one. The coordinated airports in Germany comprise the three Berlin airports (Tegel, Tempelhof and Schönefeld), as well as the airports of Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart. For the period of the World Cup, the airports in Hamburg, Nuremberg and Leipzig were also given the status of coordinated airports.

Furthermore, during certain published time periods, the airports of Frankfurt and Munich were not available as alternates for IFR flights. If a flight did not have an airport slot or used Frankfurt or Munich as an alternate aerodrome, the airline in question had to face the consequences. If correctly filed IFR flights encountered delays, the airport slot did not expire immediately. For the first time ever in Europe, compliance with airport slots was automatically checked by DFS, based on the incoming flight plans.

Delays of up to 30 minutes (raised to 60 minutes during the World Cup) were accepted; if an aircraft arrived later, a warning message was issued. This procedure was so successful during the World Cup that the Airport Coordinator and several airports requested that it be continued even after the end of the tournament.

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