Why the aviation sector should expedite climate resilience planning?

Airports are working hard to reduce their impact on climate change. But more needs to be done to make them ready for its effects.

an aircraft on a flooded runway


Vivekanandhan is Sustainable Aviation Lead,  representing Royal HaskoningDHV’s Aviation brand NACO.

Delays in European airspace due to bad weather rose from 3.5 million in 2003 to 6.5 million in 2019. But although the industry is working to reduce its contribution to global warming, climate resilience remains a low priority.

How can you build that resilience – while responding to regulatory and public pressure to reduce emissions and noise pollution?

This 3-step framework is an effective starting point.

Step 1: Build your understanding of climate risks

According to a McKinsey study, climate delays from extreme heat will affect up to 185,000 passengers per year by 2050 unless airports and runways are improved. That’s around 23 times the number of people impacted today.

To avoid the inevitable economic and social impact of delays, cancellations and closures, you should start by understanding the climate-related risks you face. To do this, you need accurate data that accounts for weather pattern shifts and acute hazards.

These risks include:

Chronic climate risks impacting the aviation sector

Acute climate risks impacting the aviation sector

The Twinn Climate Intelligence Suite analyses your susceptibility to climate change and quantifies your risk exposure. It helps you:

  • Develop an in-depth understanding of exposure across operations – with industry-leading risk data that encompasses 19 natural hazards
  • Integrate historic, real-time and future-modelled climate data – giving you a clear view of risk for current and possible future scenarios
  • Anticipate disruption before it happens – so you can take mitigating action that protects your operations, supply chains, assets and networks

Before climate resilience can become a priority, airport operators need a credible way to assess – and communicate – the risk.

Vivekanandhan SindhamaniSustainable Aviation Lead, Representing Royal HaskoningDHV’s Aviation brands Intervistas and Naco

Step 2: Create a roadmap to climate resilience

Once you’ve quantified the risks, the next stage is to formulate a systematic response – creating and implementing a climate resilience roadmap.

Despite facing multiple threats, the aviation industry has so far lacked urgency when it comes to developing climate resilience, focusing instead on the immediate need to combat emissions. In our work with airport operators and aviation authorities worldwide, we’ve found it’s generally only prioritised after direct experience of an extreme weather event.

Also, bear in mind that climate change usually impacts entire regions rather than isolated areas around airports. Therefore, the best outcomes are often achieved by collaborating with the surrounding community. However, involving multiple stakeholders inevitably increases complexity, which has been another deterrent to proactive efforts in this area.

By taking decisive action now – before flooding, storms, rising seas or extreme heat further impact your operations – you’ll prepare operations and supply chains for both chronic and acute climate risks.

And we can help.

Backed by Royal HaskoningDHV’s 140 years of engineering expertise and NACO, our world-leading airport consultancy and engineering firm, our consultants leverage their expertise on everything from climate science to evolving regulations to define your climate resilience approach. For example:

  • Our water management work for Schiphol Airport has complemented wider, national flood protection measures
  • Collaborating with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, we’ve benchmarked preparations for climate change at its Changi and Seletar airports

Step 3: Maintain business continuity with improved insights

With Twinn climate risk intelligence data and software, you have the power to prevent disruption across a range of future scenarios by:

  • Designing and reinforcing infrastructure to cope with extreme weather events – when you understand your climate vulnerabilities, you can take appropriate action, for example by constructing new terminals above sea level
  • Optimising supply chains – by leveraging climate risk data, you can anticipate and prevent climate-related disruption to transportation and logistics
  • Minimising the impact on passengers and operations – with real-time climate data, you can create and implement effective contingency plans for extreme weather events

As public and regulatory pressure rises, climate resilience planning is set to become increasingly important to the aviation sector. We give you the data and the expertise to facilitate that resilience and drive sustainable growth.

Explore the possibilities of our climate risk management solutions.

Take your first steps in climate change management

Explore the possibilities of our climate risk management platform.

Do you want to know more or have a question?  - Contact our experts!

Do you want to know more or have a question?

Contact our experts!