What is AOP in Aviation? (Airport Operating Plan)

An Airport Operating Plan (AOP), also known as Airport Operations Plan, is a comprehensive document that outlines the operational procedures and guidelines for an airport. It serves as a blueprint for efficient airport management, ensuring safe and smooth operations while maximizing the use of available resources. The AOP encompasses various aspects of airport operations, including airside and landside activities, safety protocols, emergency response plans, and coordination with stakeholders.

The Importance of Airport Operating Plan

The Airport Operating Plan plays a crucial role in maintaining the safety, efficiency, and overall performance of an airport. It provides a structured framework for airport operators and stakeholders to follow, ensuring that all activities are carried out in a coordinated and systematic manner. By having a well-defined AOP in place, airports can mitigate operational risks, prevent accidents, and minimize disruptions to air traffic.

One of the primary objectives of an AOP is to optimize airport capacity and resource utilization. It outlines strategies and procedures for managing aircraft movements, ground handling services, passenger flow, baggage handling, and other essential operations. By streamlining these processes, airports can enhance their efficiency, reduce turnaround time, and increase the number of aircraft movements per hour.

The AOP also serves as a reference for airport operators to coordinate with various stakeholders, including airlines, air traffic control, ground handling companies, customs, immigration, security, and regulatory authorities. It ensures effective collaboration among these parties, enabling seamless airport operations and minimizing conflicts.

Additionally, the Airport Operating Plan addresses safety and security concerns by outlining protocols for emergency response, risk management, and contingency planning. It provides guidelines for handling emergencies such as aircraft accidents, natural disasters, terrorist threats, or security breaches. By having predefined procedures in place, airport authorities can respond promptly and effectively to such situations, safeguarding the lives of passengers, crew, and airport personnel.

Furthermore, the AOP encompasses environmental considerations, promoting sustainable practices in airport operations. It includes measures to minimize noise pollution, reduce carbon emissions, conserve energy and water resources, and manage waste effectively. By incorporating these environmental guidelines, airports can contribute to the overall sustainability of the aviation industry.

Components of an Airport Operating Plan

An Airport Operating Plan consists of several key components that collectively form a comprehensive framework for airport operations. These components include:

1. Airside Operations

The airside operations section of the AOP focuses on the management of aircraft movement, parking, and servicing. It includes guidelines for runway operations, taxiway procedures, aircraft parking allocation, and ground handling services. The AOP provides instructions to optimize airspace utilization, reduce congestion, and enhance aircraft turnaround efficiency.

Within the airside operations component, the AOP also addresses the implementation of safety protocols and procedures. It outlines the requirements for runway inspections, lighting systems, marking and signage, bird and wildlife management, as well as emergency response plans for aircraft accidents or incidents. These measures ensure the safety of aircraft operations and minimize the risk of accidents.

2. Landside Operations

The landside operations section of the AOP focuses on the management of passenger and cargo movement within the airport premises. It includes guidelines for passenger check-in processes, security screening, baggage handling, immigration procedures, customs clearance, and ground transportation services. The AOP ensures that landside operations are streamlined, efficient, and customer-oriented.

Within the landside operations component, the AOP also addresses terminal facility management, including seating arrangements, restroom facilities, retail outlets, food and beverage services, and overall passenger comfort. These guidelines aim to enhance the passenger experience and meet the expectations of travelers.

3. Safety and Security

The safety and security component of the AOP focuses on mitigating risks, preventing accidents, and ensuring a secure airport environment. It outlines emergency response plans, risk management strategies, and security protocols for different scenarios. The AOP provides instructions for handling various emergencies, including fire incidents, medical emergencies, terrorist threats, and acts of sabotage.

The AOP also includes guidelines for conducting regular safety audits, inspections, and drills to assess the effectiveness of safety and security measures. It emphasizes the importance of staff training, awareness programs, and collaboration with external agencies to maintain a high level of safety and security at the airport.

Note that the components mentioned above are not exhaustive, and the specific content of an AOP may vary depending on the size, complexity, and jurisdiction of the airport. However, the overall objective remains the same – to ensure efficient, safe, and secure airport operations.


The Airport Operating Plan (AOP) is a vital document in aviation that establishes a framework for efficient and safe airport operations. It provides guidelines for various aspects of airport management, including airside and landside operations, safety protocols, emergency response plans, and stakeholder coordination. By following the AOP, airports can optimize resource utilization, enhance operational efficiency, and ensure the highest level of safety and security.

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