Today, some companies like Delair, SITA and INDRA provide airport Resource Management Systems (RMS) for gate allocations, which show information as a Gantt Chart.

I know that air traffic controllers use a flight progress strip to track flights under their control, but how was parking managed in the past without today's RMS solutions? What do dispatchers use for gate management? If it's manual, what is the process?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Aircraft stands are usually assigned by the airport or a handling agency, not air traffic control $\endgroup$ Aug 13, 2016 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ you're right , thank you for correcting my mistake. $\endgroup$
    – Ines
    Aug 13, 2016 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ @J.Hougaard I think the word "controllers" in the question include all personels guiding the airplane (from en-route ATC to "follow-me"cars, including people managing airort ressources) $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Aug 14, 2016 at 8:04
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Before resource management applications, it was possible to use paper T-card planners like this. Factories, hospitals, schools, mechanics, etc have used it (and still do), so why not airports? $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Aug 14, 2016 at 22:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Your verb tense is a little confusing because you are asking in your first question for what was used, and in the second, you are asking for what do they use. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 19:08

3 Answers 3


Depends on the airport. Some airports assign blocks of gates to specific airlines, and they then assign them to flights (usually on an as-needed or first-come-first-serve basis).
Other airports assign them all themselves, again usually on an as-needed or first-come-first-serve basis.
Of course there are categories of gates as well, size and capacity determine what aircraft types can be handled by specific gates.
In theory at least, and no doubt small airports do it that way, it can be handled all with pen and paper. Larger airports of course will have some sort of computerized system for it, either purchased off the shelf or something they had custom built for them.


Depending on the airport, an airline may lease gates(s) and have exclusive rights to manage that particular gate or parking location. Typically there is always common use gates, which are allocated based on advance schedules submitted to the airport authority for approval.

Gate management software is often used.


Most airlines or airports (if they control gate allocation) have their own software to do this. It's based on all the usual variables (gate aircraft type capacity etc.). I'm aware of one that prioritises certain flights based on distance to expected take-off runway (to minimise taxi time), but it's a standard optimisation problem solved using software. If the process is manual, it's based on the heuristic knowledge of the dispatchers ie. can seem a bit random, but works! I was always amazed at the skill of the 'ops' guys when they did the gate planning manually. They managed to squeeze everything in perfectly, but it was not something they could explain as a process: just something they knew how to do after years of experience.

  • $\begingroup$ One more intersting rule I came across in gate allocation software for an airline's own terminal: flight block time. Shorter haul flights were allocated to gates closer to the operational runways - the idea being that long haul flights had the capacity to make up time after a longer taxi. An extra dimension to this rule was a 'arrives at slot controlled airport' flag. If this is true, the aircraft were allocated closer to the operating runway, to minimize the risk of missing a slot. It all ends up being quite 'black boxed', but seems to work - although the plans required 'massaging' manually. $\endgroup$
    – Pete855217
    Jul 17, 2019 at 3:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.