Travel insights...

Balancing act

Meeting the needs of the travelling public while keeping up to date with the latest security requirements has never been easy, and arguably it is going to be even more difficult in the future as airports strive to improve the passenger experience as they handle more traffic than ever before.
Like everything else, of course, air travel can be frustrating and it doesn’t take much to make or break the airport experience. 
A confluence of events adding delays and frustration to what should be an otherwise standard trip, for example, can result in a “nightmare” time at the airport while a smooth and hassle free trip can lead to a “best ever airport” experience.
Our desire for a moan means that we get to hear about the bad experiences much more than we do the good ones, and in today’s social media mad/ever connected world, this appears to be almost every day now.
What isn’t being discussed with that same frequency, however, is the willingness of airlines and airports to create and deploy the necessary solutions to alleviate passengers’ woes.
According to IATA, more than eight million passengers fly on a daily basis. In 2013, for the first time ever, over three billion passengers passed through an airport for travel purposes and in 2016, that number is estimated to hit 3.6 billion.
And for many of these travellers, the growing presence of technology – particularly the airline and airport eco-systems – is vastly overlooked, but can no longer be ignored.
In discussing the standards that once were and ones that now exist, you can see the delicate balance between the passenger journey and efforts to secure that journey. 
Past events have caused us to flip from one side to the other, but today’s solutions can allow us to achieve equilibrium between the ability to integrate new technology and still maintain effective levels of security. This balance is crucial, not only for the passenger experience, but for the safety of us all. 
 
All things security – the 9/11 response
Many of us remember the days when air travel was viewed as glamorous. Indeed, in this halcyon era for aviation the airport experience was quick and easy for most passengers who could pass through terminals with little or no hassle. This, of course, all changed in one day 14 years ago.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, prompted the US government and most others across the world to enact new legislation aimed at improving passenger safety. 
In the US, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) – signed in November that year – ushered in the federalisation of passenger security. Actions taken were primarily in the form of screening practices, many of which were conducted by the newly formed Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
As a result of the establishment of the TSA, for the first time ever airlines began instructing passengers to schedule their arrival at least two hours prior to their flight, and even more so for international travel. 
Screening measures like hand searches through carry-on luggage were implemented, as were additional measures in the form of shoe removal, laptop removal, the restriction of liquids, and even selective screenings. A commonality is they all serve as impediments to efficient facilitation processes.
Over time, these standards have been begrudgingly ingrained into the minds of travellers. It has, in turn, become commonplace to expect these types of issues from check-in to take-off and arrival. It seemed that years of increased, intensive security birthed a new era of non-facilitation. 
Today, borders can be identified both physically and digitally. Facilitating passengers in a physical space (and between countries) can be challenging enough, but with the rise of technology, even just in the last decade, securing and monitoring their safety has become an added challenge.
Ultimately, this should be seen as an opportunity to influence and establish appropriate practices and procedures, all aimed at efficiently and securely assisting passengers to their destination.
The added hope being that passengers will remain loyal, choosing to travel through the airport with the airline that gave them a great experience they wish to repeat on future journeys.
 
The potential to improve
To ask how facilitation and security can come together on a new level is to recognise the emerging technologies assisting travellers today. 
Let’s begin with intelligence. Intelligence is a growing concept in the technology industry. Once deemed as science fiction, intelligent applications and visual solutions are a growing reality in a number of airports. Whether built with real-time analytics, digital mobility or big data capabilities, solutions today are providing the transportation industry with the ability to deliver personalised services.
These personalised services are disrupting what since 9/11 has become considered to be the new norm in travel, giving passengers an increasing sense of autonomy and the ability to facilitate themselves, such as using their mobile phone to navigate their way through the airport.
We at Unisys are very familiar with the passenger journey that starts as soon as the traveller has booked their flight and ends when they leave the airport at their destination (with their bags). 
Providing travellers with solutions that offer more freedom and flexibility, and that are accessible throughout the airport, is critical for success. Such solutions we see increasingly coming to life include:
Biometrics – This technology is quickly bringing identity management to the forefront. Solutions involving the art and science of uniquely identifying passengers, be it via facial recognition, fingerprint, or the scanning of the eye, is going a long way towards ensuring airlines, airports and immigration officials can maintain close watch on inbound and outbound passengers from a security perspective, whilst processing them faster from a facilitation perspective.
Customer insights – Data analytics and mobile device use is giving the industry the ability to track the patterns of repeat passengers, including preferred amenities so that the next time a passenger visits the same airport, customised services can be immediately presented to them. 
Big data is allowing the industry to infer all sorts of knowledge about retail spending habits, shopping demographics and the like.
Automated passenger recognition – Through scanning a standard boarding pass (and enhancing that with a secondary ID check), entitled passengers seeking lounge access can enter and exit swiftly and with ease, with airlines not having to worry about unauthorised entry.
Home-printed bag tags – In an effort to increase passenger self-service, the ability to print one’s own bag tag at home allows for quicker passenger processes, aimed at increasing passenger satisfaction by shortening queue times. 
Similarly, self-bag drop and common-bag drop services are also starting to be utilised when you arrive at the airport.
One might think that security and passenger facilitation stops at the airport edge. Think again, because governments, airports and the airline industry today, more than ever before, are also concerned with effective border control. 
A consistent enjoyable travel experience is key to the future of air travel. New technologies such as Automated Border Control (ABC) using kiosks, electronic gates, passports and biometrics; and completion of arrival documents via mobile device are all being implemented around the world today. 
Through a harmonised and interconnected approach by these stakeholders, all utilising common international standards, both nations and airlines hosting the travelling public will benefit greatly. The more fun (and the more efficient) it is to fly, the more people will travel by plane.
 
Revisiting tomorrow: A call to action
There is a great deal of emphasis being placed on the future of travel, including how to build the infrastructure necessary, and how to ensure the safety and security of passengers. 
At a time when budgets are slim and infrastructure is aging, airports must reinvent their business model, not only to manage increasing passenger volumes but also passengers’ expectations. 
Public awareness of technology and its capabilities in our airports needs to change, as does the modern technology these facilities deliver. After all, it is for today’s travellers that we are working to develop the solutions and standards for the next generation. 
Normal operations in travel will ultimately take on a new definition as technology continues to mature and evolve, and enhance the passenger experience. The sooner airlines, airports and passengers realise this and take action, the sooner the standards of travel – and hence the airport experience – will improve for all.
Source: Airport World

UK firm appointed to conduct the retail planning for Istanbul's new mega-hub

The retail planning for Istanbul’s eagerly awaited new €10.2 billion gateway is to be carried out by London-based The Design Solution.

Located in Amavutköv district 35 kilometres northwest of Istanbul, it will replace Atatürk Airport as Turkey’s major gateway and will have an ultimate capacity of 150 million passengers per annum.
Set to open in 2018, Istanbul’s new airport is expected to be an iconic global hub that sets new standards in operational and service quality, and operator İGA Havalimanı İşletmesi AŞ (IGA) is determined that the retail experience will set a new benchmark for travel retail.  The airport will have a gross floor area of over one million square metres, of which approximately 53,000sqm has been set aside for retail.Earlier this year UNIFREE DutyFree İşletmeciliği AŞ – in which Gebr Heinemann has a majority stake – secured a 25-year contract to operate all of the international airside retail space and The Design Solution will be working closely with these retail and supply partners to develop the optimum overall commercial plan. 
Robbie Gill, managing director of The Design Solution comments: “It is both challenging and humbling to be working with the biggest new airport on the planet – a gateway to one of the world’s greatest and most unique cities.”We are immensely proud to have been selected to support IGA’s astonishing vision where we can apply our extensive global experience to the project including, most recently, the commercial planning of the new Midfield terminal at Abu Dhabi, but the scale of Istanbul’s new airport adds an extraordinary new dimension to the challenge.  
“IGA have a clear focus on creating what they describe as ‘the world’s best shopping environment in worldwide travel retail’, ranging from a new interpretation of contemporary luxury to a traditional bazaar concept, and we look forward to being part of delivering this unique and authentic vision. “Istanbul itself provides a unique inspiration for how an authentic sense of place can be delivered, ensuring that every passenger enjoys the retail space to the full and also that they feel intrinsically connected to the city at the bridge of Asia and Europe.”
Construction on the first of the four-phases of the project began on May 1, 2015, and includes a massive earthworks programme to provide a platform for the infrastructure development.  Ultimately the new airport, with an area of 76 square kilometres, will accommodate six runways and, when it opens (2018), the current airport will then be closed. 
The Design Solution brings considerable experience from the greater MEA region through a portfolio of other major airport projects, including projects at Muscat, Doha, Mumbai, Delhi and Antalya. 

Source: Airport World

New owners named for key Japanese airports

Sendai in northern Japan and Osaka’s Kansai and Itami airports are all set to have new operators within the next few months as part of the government’s plans reduce spending on key infrastructure to reduce the national debt.

A private consortium spearheaded by rail operator, Tokyu, is set to rubber stamp a 30-year concession is manage Sendai by the end of 2015.
While an ORIX-Vinci Airports spearheaded consortium has been selected as the preferred ‘negotiations rights holder’ for Osaka’s gateways and is expected to take over the running of the city’s Kansai and Itami for 44 years from April 1, 2016.
If the $18 billion deal goes ahead ORIX Corporation and Vinci Airports will each have a 40% stake in a new, yet-to-be established concessionaire company with the remaining 20% of the shares owned by local companies.
Orix Corporation is one of Japan’s most acquisitive financial firms, while the deal will cement Vinci Airport’s status as one of the world’s leading airport operators.

Source: Airport World

Oslo Airport unveils vision of the future for F&B and convenience store offerings

Oslo Airport has released a sneak preview of the new food, beverage and convenience store offerings that will open at the gateway in April 2017!

A total of five operators have been selected to serve food and beverages to the passengers at Norway’s main airport.
“A long, meticulous selection process has resulted in our decision to enter into a partnership with five operators,” says Øyvind Hasaas, managing director of Oslo Airport.”These operators submitted the overall best tenders and we feel certain that the Norwegian people will be pleased with our choices.”
The five winners are SSP, HMSHost-UMOE F&B Company, Reitan Convenience Norway, Joe & The Juice and BIT.The number of F&B establishments will increase from the current 20 to 37, while the number of convenience stores (kiosks) will increase from six to ten. 
“Our ambition has always been to bring in more operators, and now we have a good mix of companies that will provide better and more extensive food, beverage and kiosk offerings than what we have today,” says Hasaas. 
“Our ambition has always been to provide the best possible services for our passengers. While our current food, beverage and kiosk offerings are good, we believe that this will be enhanced when we open an airport nearly double its present size in April 2017.”Among the existing food and beverage establishments, Peppes Pizza, O`Learys, La Baguette, W.B Samson, Caffè Ritazza, Starbucks and Aquavit Bar will continue, while Franks Deli and Upper Crust will be phased out.
“We have wanted a broad selection where passengers can choose among both international and Norwegian menus. Several of the establishments have Norwegian food and beverages on the menu, while others have a more international flavour.”It is this combination that makes us certain that our passengers can look forward to excellent culinary experiences, at acceptable prices,” Hasaas concludes.

Source: Airport World

Coffee drinkers win the battle of the beverages at London City Airport

It appears as if passengers at London City Airport (LCY) do literally wake up and smell the coffee as the gateway reveals that it sold 25,000 cups of the beverage last month!

LCY claims to have discovered its passengers love of coffee during a new survey looking into the drinking habits of airport visitors.Remarkably for a nation of tea drinkers, the humble cuppa was completely overshadowed by the sale of over 800 coffees a day, with cappuccinos the best seller.
October was a significant month for the airport as it enjoyed its busiest ever week – 94,686 passengers from the week commencing Monday 19th – and welcomed 408,544 passengers overall.In total,  25,773 coffees were sold meaning that one in every 15 passengers grabbed a caffeine fix before their flight or whilst waiting for arriving friends and family.
The coffee fest involved 4,616 cappuccinos, 3,789 lattes and 2,364 Americanos whilst the cup of tea, thought for a long time to be Britain’s favourite drink, was booted out of first place and accounted for just a fifth of the airport’s total hot drink sales combined with hot chocolates.
Research by the Financial Times earlier this year found that the UK is a nation of coffee addicts with 1.7 billion cups sold per year. Indeed, one in five people will visit a coffee shop every day, up from one in nine just five years ago.An LCY spokesperson said: “For a nation of tea drinkers though it’s quite surprising to see just how many coffees we sell, and we’ve been looking into the reasons behind the high numbers.”One in 15 might not sound much but it all works out as nearly 831 litres a day, which is around eight people’s water consumption in an entire year!
“If you factor in our busiest times of day, which is usually between 7am and 10am and then 5pm and 7pm, it looks as if we have passengers that need a cup of coffee to help them perk up before heading off in the morning or keep them awake when flying back in the evening.”

Source: Airport World

Dublin Airport planning to hire 180 new staff to cope with record breaking growth

Dublin Airport is looking to hire 180 new staff to help it cope with growing passenger numbers that topped 25 million last year.

Indeed, 2015 turned out to be its busiest ever year with passenger numbers soaring by 15% or 3.3 million, leading operator daa to announce plans today to recruit new staff to help it cope with demand.It says that the new staff will be recruited in areas such as security, customer service and asset management.
Ireland’s Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, welcomed the record-breaking traffic at Dublin Airport and the new jobs that are being delivered due to the growth in passenger numbers.
“Connectivity is vital for our island economy and the impact of these additional passengers and new routes at Dublin Airport will be felt right across the country,” he enthuses.”I welcome the new jobs being announced here today and look forward to continued growth in passenger numbers and employment at Dublin Airport in the years ahead.
“Extra inbound passengers at Dublin Airport helped to bring record numbers of tourists to Ireland last year, and the opportunities offered to business by new routes from Dublin and additional choice on existing services similarly helped to boost trade and foreign direct investment, all of which are assisting our economic recovery.”
Daa reveals that the huge upturn in passenger numbers was fuelled by 22 new routes and extra capacity on almost 40 existing services.
And it claims that the growth in passenger numbers is expected to continue into 2016, as 11 new scheduled services have already been announced for this year, including new direct transatlantic services to Hartford Connecticut, Los Angeles, Newark and Vancouver.There are also new long-haul charter services to Cancun in Mexico and Montego Bay in Jamaica.
“Dublin Airport had a fantastic year of passenger growth in 2015, which is good news for the Irish economy, for tourism, and for job creation, both at the airport and in the wider economy,” says daa’s chief executive, Kevin Toland.
“We are hiring 350 additional staff as a direct result of this growth in passengers at Dublin Airport. We recruited about 170 new people last year and a further new 180 staff will be hired during 2016.
“These additional staff are mainly in customer-facing areas, as we work to ensure that Dublin Airport continues to offer an excellent and efficient product to our passengers and airline customers as traffic increases.”
Dublin Airport is also continuing to invest in upgrading its facilities.Improvements are being made to the departures and arrivals areas and security screening within Terminal 1 and an award-winning new retail and food and beverage area opened in T1 last year.Ten new aircraft parking stands will be completed before the summer, and an extension to the Terminal 2 multi-storey car park has been added to meet increased customer demand.
“We are constantly investing in the airfield and the passenger facilities to allow our customers to operate as efficiently as possible, and to provide a quality travel experience to the travelling public,” adds Toland.
Dublin Airport is also currently evaluating plans for the development of a new runway, which will be an essential enabler for the Irish economy for many decades to come.A second parallel runway has been part of the Dublin Airport local area plan since the 1970s. Planning permission for a new runway was granted in 2007, but the project was put on hold due to the economic downturn.

Source: Airport World

Traffic on the rise across Lithuania's airports

A record 4.2 million passengers passed through Lithuania’s three major gateways of Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga last year.

The total, which represents an 11.3% rise on the 2014 figures reported by newly created operator Lithuania Airports, is significantly higher than the country’s estimated population of 2.9 million people.Lithuania Airports reveals that all three gateways reported growth, with Vilnius handling more than 3mppa for the first time in its history.
Its final figure for 2015 was 3.3 million – an increase of 13.4% on the 2.9 million passengers to use its facilities in 2014.
Palanga and Kaunas in comparison handled 145,000 and 747,000 passengers in 2015 – growth of 9.4% and 3.2% respectively on the previous year.
The most popular destinations in Vilnius and Palanga remained the same in 2015 – flights to London, Frankfurt and Riga receive most passengers in the capital, while Copenhagen remains the leader in Palanga.Holiday destinations were especially demanded in Kaunas in 2014, but in 2015 they were pushed from the top of the most popular list by London, Dublin and Copenhagen.“The number of people travelling by air and using airport services has been growing steadily since 2009,” says Gediminas Almantas, CEO of Lithuanian Airports.”Vilnius alone showed the growth in the number of passengers by 2.5 times in six years. “The mobility of the country’s population keeps growing – both for tourism and business purposes. Further, Lithuania is increasingly spotted in the international arena and is frequented by visitors from abroad. “Next year, with new carriers and new destinations, we will expand the opportunities for travellers even more, therefore we expect that this growth will not stop.”
 

Source: Airport World

carbon accreditation certification proves Brisbane Airport's 'green' credentials

Brisbane Airport Corporation’s continued efforts in managing its carbon emissions have been officially recognised by Airports Council International (ACI) with Brisbane Airport (BNE) now certified as Airport Carbon Accredited at Level 3 (Optimisation). 

To achieve Level 3 Optimisation Accreditation, BAC successfully reduced the level of its Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions, mapped the carbon footprint for the whole of Brisbane Airport, and demonstrated successful engagement with key stakeholders in ongoing efforts to improve the airport’s environmental sustainability.
Brisbane Airport is the second Australian airport and the eighth airport in the Asia-Pacific region to reach this level.BAC’s CEO and managing director, Julieanne Alroe, says the airport’s sustainability strategy aimed to reach beyond a risk and compliance position.
“At Brisbane Airport we are committed to sustainability and putting in place programmes that help us manage and minimise long-term impacts of climate change and adverse environmental impacts from aviation and property development activities,” says Alroe.
“Achieving Level 3 Optimisation Airport Carbon Accreditation is an achievement we’re very proud of and one that encourages us to continue our efforts to further reduce our carbon footprint.”
Patti Chau, regional director of ACI Asia-Pacific, notes: “I wish to congratulate Brisbane Airport in becoming the second airport in Australia to attain Airport Carbon Accreditation Optimisation Level.”The accreditation demonstrates Brisbane Airport’s strong commitment to environmental protection and ensuring sustainable growth.”I look forward to seeing the airport’s future achievements on its journey towards carbon neutrality.”
Currently there are 151 airports certified at one of the four available levels of the programme. These airports welcome nearly a third of global air passenger traffic.The global Airport Carbon Accreditation programme certifies airports at four different levels of accreditation (Mapping, Reduction, Optimisation and Neutrality).It is independently administered, institutionally-endorsed and has won praise from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the United Nation Environment Panel (UNEP) and the European Union (EU).

Source: Airport World

San Diego opens impressive new consolidated car rental center

San Diego International Airport’s new $316 million consolidated Rental Car Center officially opened for business early this morning.

The two million square foot Rental Car Center houses most of the rental car companies serving the airport, including national brands, as well as local, independent and small business rental car companies, in one central location off Pacific Highway.The new facility replaces the group of buildings on Harbor Drive that have for years housed most rental car companies serving the airport.In a related change, all rental car customers will be carried to and from the terminals in 16 new alternative-fuel shuttles owned and operated by San Diego Regional Airport Authority.This fleet replaces the approximately 81 shuttles now operated by the rental car companies.“When I look at the new Rental Car Center, I see a facility that does it all,” says San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Board’s chair, Robert Gleason.“It improves the customer experience from start to finish; it helps us maximise use of our 661-acre footprint in a sustainable way; and it bolsters the airport’s role as a key economic driver.”According to the airport, moving the rental car companies to the north side of the airport and consolidating them into one building will dramatically reduce rental car traffic on Harbor Drive, as well as the number of shuttle buses competing with passengers getting to and from the airport.The new shuttle buses will operate almost exclusively on a new interior airport roadway.“With this facility, we’re helping to ease congestion on Harbor Drive while reducing the airport’s overall carbon footprint,” enthuses Thella Bowens, the airport authority’s president and CEO.The building, which is a candidate for LEED Silver certification, also features three new works of public art, with a fourth expected to debut later this year.Fourteen rental car company brands are operating out of the facility, which can accommodate up to 19 brands in total. The facility has room for more than 5,000 cars.The $316 million facility generated approximately 4,600 construction jobs, with $186 million in construction contracts going to local businesses, of that $70.4 million went to small businesses.
• Images courtesy of Pablo Mason and Rodney Nakamoto.

Source: Airport World

Legal Sea Foods and L'Occitane win awards at Philadelphia International Airport

Philadelphia International Airport concessionaire MarketPlace PHL has named Legal Sea Foods and L’OCCITANE, both located in the B/C Connector, as its restaurant and retailer of the last quarter.

The Philadelphia Marketplace’s Cutting EDGE! Program (Excellence Drives Great Experiences) is designed to motivate and reward merchants.Each merchant can earn EDGE! points through great customer service and participation in marketing programmes and, at the end of each quarter, the food and retail merchants with the most points are named Merchants of the Quarter.
Legal Sea Foods offers everything under the sea, including signature menu items such as lobster, crab cakes, New England clam chowder, shrimp, salmon and a variety of sandwiches, salads and desserts.The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and takeout to the gateway’s passengers.
L’OCCITANE is a global and natural ingredient-based skincare, body care and fragrance brand with strong regional roots in Provence, France.Its products include personal care for the face, body and hair for women and men, as well as items for the home, travel and gifts.
“The Cutting Edge! Programme showcases merchants that demonstrate our high standards for customer service each and every day,” said Mel Hannah, vice president and general manager of MarketPlace PHL.“Congratulations to Legal Sea Foods and L’OCCITANE for earning this special recognition.”MarketPlace PHL is the private partner with the City of Philadelphia in the management of the food and retail programme throughout Philadelphia International Airport.The award-winning food and retail programme consists of 170 in-line stores, restaurants and services, plus an average of 20 specialty retail units throughout Terminals A–West through F.MarketPlace PHL is a partnership between MarketPlace Development, a Boston-based airport retail development firm, and LeJeune & Associates, a Philadelphia-based retail development, management and consulting firm. • Pictured above (L-R) are Debbie McGee, manager of L’OCCITANE, and James Chapman, manager of Legal Sea Foods.

Source: Airport World