In those areas where SEA has independent decision making authority, the Group’s commitment is evident, and the results are also visible.
The impact on air quality resulting from the activities of an airport system is due to several factors.
It is important to keep in mind that an airport operating company provides, directly or indirectly, ground support to aircraft, passengers and cargo.
While a wide range of initiatives have been implemented to “raise awareness” in all the parties who, for different reasons, operate in many adjacent fields (which are often not easy to “separate” from what is commonly associated with an airport), there are many operational processes where the operating parties are totally independent and cannot be constrained by decisions made outside their organizations (e.g. Airlines).
This often leads to combine responsibilities that are actually separate and that fall within the remit of different operating parties and different corporate or institutional organizations.
As the subject is vast, in discussing air quality we should specify what exactly will be taken into consideration.
The field we are examining is a complex mix of pollutant build-ups and processes for their removal/dilution into the atmosphere. There is also wide variability over time (and from place to place, even at very short distances) due to atmospheric agents (mainly wind and rain or snowfall/storms).
Primary pollutants may be “gaseous” or “particulate”. The main pollutants include sulfur compounds, nitrogen compounds, carbon compounds, PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), halogenated compounds (HCl, HF, HBr, CFC); radicals (oxydril (OH) and hydroperoxide (HO2) radicals in daytime, and nitrate radical (NO3) at night). Particulate matter should be considered as a function of particle size; particles below 10µm in diameter constitute the well-known PM10.
With respect to airports, sources of air pollution include:
- fixed sources, for example those associated with heating, cooling and ventilation processes and the like (under the airport operator’s direct or indirect control);
- emissions from equipment used for loading/unloading operations and handling; (under the airport operator’s direct or indirect control);
- emissions due to aircraft ground movements; (only partly under the direct or indirect control of the airport operator, which can only help, together with ENAV, to ensure Apron Management Control);
- landings, takeoffs and related taxiing (entirely outside the airport operator’s control);
- traffic within the airport grounds; (under the airport operator’s direct or indirect control);
- the surroundings of motor vehicle parking areas (under the airport operator’s direct or indirect control);
- traffic from and to terminals or operating areas (e.g. Cargo) and the multimodality rate that characterizes it (which can be only marginally influenced by the airport operator).
The effects resulting from vehicular traffic, and in general from the vehicles used by employees, customers and operators commuting from and to the airport, are closely related to the level of intermodality typical of the territorial context where airports are located.
Two important factors are not under the airport operator’s control:
- the level of technological evolution of the aircraft composing the airlines’ fleets, and therefore their actual efficiency in terms of combustion and emissions;
- the possibility of defining as well as monitoring routes and in-flight scenarios.