Airport World, Issue 3, 2022

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Theme: IT Innovation Airport profile: Ontario (ONT) Special report: Jeddah Airport City Plus: ACI EUROPE’s Annual Congress & General Assembly

In the spotlight: IT innovation Volume 27 – Issue 3, 2022 www.aci.aero



OPINION

Airport World Editor Joe Bates +44 (0)1276 476582 joe@airport-world.com Design, Layout & Production Mark Draper +44 (0)208 707 2743 mark@airport-world.com Sales Directors Jonathan Lee +44 (0)208 707 2743 jonathan@airport-world.com Jon Sissons +44 (0)208 707 2743 jon.sissons@airport-world.com Advertising Manager Andrew Hazell +44 (0)208 384 0206 andrewh@airport-world.com Subscriptions subscriptions@aviationmedia.aero Managing Director Jonathan Lee +44 (0)208 707 2743 jonathan@aviationmedia.aero

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Never ending story

Airport World editor, Joe Bates, reflects on the evolution of technology and aviation’s constant search for new IT-driven solutions.

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hose of us old enough to have used typewriters, telex and facsimile (fax) machines at work will remember how the introduction of mobile phones, desktop computers and the internet changed everything. We were truly bedazzled by the technology and what pushing a few buttons enabled us to do after being brought up in the pre-digital age, although admittedly those early mobiles were about the size of a shoebox and initial ‘dial-up’ access to the internet was slow and noisy! Being overwhelmed by technology would never happen in 2022, of course, as times have changed and, today, children are virtually born attached to a computer… or perhaps, more accurately, a Smartphone, Xbox or PlayStation. Indeed, the tech-savvy world we live in today means that people not only want to use the latest IT systems to make things easier and more convenient for themselves, they expect it, and in many cases, prefer it to human interaction. This represents an ongoing operational, financial and customer service challenge for airports, particularly in times like these when budgets are tight as aviation continues to recover from the global pandemic. Having said that, SITA’s Air Transport IT Insights 2021 report shows that airports continue to invest in new technology, with 81% expected to spend the same or more on IT this year, with spending on the automation of passenger processing, seeing a significant rise. Airports certainly haven’t been slow in embracing new technology over the years, particularly when it comes to the introduction of self-service check-in and baggage drop facilities and biometric enabled technologies such as e-gates. And the pandemic itself has arguably led to the earlier than expected adoption of touchless technology at airports across the globe for everything from check-in and paying for parking to leaving customer feedback. We have, for example, previously reported that Orlando International Airport’s soon-to-

open new South Terminal C is set to showcase an array of hands-free technologies, and other new facilities will undoubtedly follow. As you would expect, some of these technologies are covered in the ‘IT innovation’ themed section of this issue, which includes features about investing in sustainability; the possible need for a warp-speed mindset toward digitalisation; and the security risk of IoT devices in airports and the potential need for a joint approach to cyber and physical security to secure networks. The themed section also contains a round-up of some of the latest IT news from across the globe and a forward-thinking piece from Amadeus’ Sarah Samuel who ponders whether it is time for Asia-Pacific airports to consider how they will look and digitally interact with passengers in the future. Elsewhere in the issue, we report on the highlights of ACI EUROPE’s Annual Congress & General Assembly in Rome; provide a vertiport update; and discover more about Incheon International Airport’s customer service philosophy, focus and ambitions. We also learn more about Jeddah Airport City, the highly ambitious development plan of King Abdulaziz International Airport. As usual, we also hear from ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira; discover the latest news from ACI’s World Business Partners; and discuss sustainability and technology in our popular ‘people matters’ column. Our main interview is with Atif Elkadi, the CEO of Ontario International Airport in Southern California, who tells us more about the transformation in his gateway’s fortunes over the last five years and its impressive recovery from the global pandemic. I hope you enjoy the issue and, now that global travel is very much back on the agenda, look forward to seeing you soon at an upcoming industry event somewhere around the world.

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CONTENTS CONTENTS

Theme: IT Innovation Airport profile: Ontario (ONT) Special report: Jeddah Airport City Plus: ACI EUROPE’s Annual Congress & General Assembly

ISSUE 3 Volume 27

In this issue 3

In the spotlight: IT innovation Volume 27 – Issue 3, 2022 www.aci.aero

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Opinion

Airport World editor, Joe Bates, reflects on the evolution of technology and aviation’s constant search for new IT-driven solutions.

View from the top

ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, reflects on the key role new technology plays in the operation and ongoing development of the world’s airports.

ONT to betting things

CEO, Atif Elkadi, tells Joe Bates more about the transformation in Ontario International Airport’s fortunes over the last five years and its impressive recovery from the global pandemic.

Investing in sustainability

Carlos Kaduoka, SITA’s head of business strategy for airports, considers how new technology will play a key role in helping airports respond to the demands for a greener industry.

Eliminating threats

Genetec’s Simon Barnes assesses the risks of IoT devices in airports and the need for a joint approach to cyber and physical security to secure networks.

Tech talk

Joe Bates takes a closer look at some of the most innovative IT stories to have made headlines across the globe in the first half of 2022.

The clock is ticking

It is time to apply a ‘warp-speed mindset’ to the digital transformation of airport operations to accommodate future growth, improve the passenger journey, respond to disruptions and optimise operational efficiencies from ground operations to ticketing, writes Charlie Meyer.

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CONTENTS

Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira (Montréal, Canada) Chair Aimen Al Hosni (Muscat, Oman) Vice Chair Candace McGraw (Cincinnati, USA) Immediate Past Chair Martin Eurnekián (Buenos Aires, Argentina) Treasurer Candace McGraw (Cincinnati, USA) ACI WORLD GOVERNING BOARD DIRECTORS Africa (3) Emanuel Chaves (Maputo, Mozambique) Dewananda Chellen (Plaine Magnien, Mauritius) Capt Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu (Lagos, Nigeria)

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Forward thinking

As borders begin to re-open, is it time for APAC airports to reconsider how they will look and digitally interact with passengers in the future? Amadeus’ senior vice president of airport and airline operations for the region, Sarah Samuel, investigates.

Raising the bar

MXD’s Chris LeTourneur outlines what we can expect from Jeddah Airport City and explains why he believes it represents the future of airport centric development.

On the comeback trail

We review some of the highlights of ACI EUROPE’s Annual Congress & General Assembly in Rome.

The pursuit of excellence

Kyung Wook Kim, president and CEO of long-time ASQ champion, Incheon International Airport, talks to Joe Bates about his gateway’s customer service focus and ambitions.

Vertiport update

Flying cabs are a step closer to reality following the successful trial of the world’s first fully operational demonstration hub for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles such as air taxis and autonomous cargo drones.

World Business Partners News

The latest news from ACI’s World Business Partners.

People matters

Dr Richard Plenty and Terri Morrisey reflect on how the human touch is an area to focus on while airport automation gathers pace.

AIRPORT WORLD/ISSUE 3, 2022

Asia-Pacific (9) Aimen Al-Hosni (Muscat, Oman) Mohamed Yousif Al-Binfalah (Bahrain) Geoff Culbert (Sydney, Australia) SGK Kishore (Hyderabad, India) Fred Lam (Hong Kong) Seow Hiang Lee (Singapore) Nitinai Sirismatthakarn (Bangkok, Thailand) Akihiko Tamura (Tokyo, Japan) 1 Vacancy Europe (7) Daniel Burkard (Moscow, Russia) David Ciceo (Cluj-Napoca, Romania) Elena Mayoral Corcuera (Madrid, Spain) Javier Marin (Madrid, Spain) Yiannis Paraschis (Athens, Greece) Stefan Schulte (Frankfurt, Germany) Nazareno Ventola (Bologna, Italy) Latin America & Caribbean (3) Ezequiel Barrenechea (Guayaquil, Ecuador) Mónica Infante (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) Juan José Salmón (Lima, Peru) North America (6) Lew Bleiweis (Asheville, USA) Joyce Carter (Halifax, Canda) Deborah Flint (Toronto, Canada) Joseph Lopano (Tampa, USA) Candace McGraw (Cincinnati, USA) Sam Samaddar (Kelowna, Canada) Regional Advisers to the World Governing Board (10) Guilaume Branlat (Saint-Denis, Réunion) Chellie Cameron (Philadelphia, USA) Arnaud Feist (Brussels, Belgium) Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid (Delhi, India) Mpumi Mpofu (Johannesburg, South Africa) Andrew O’Brian (Washington DC, USA) Augustin de Romanet (Paris, France) Jorge Rosillo (Galapagos, Ecuador) Brian Ryks (Minneapolis-St Paul, USA) 1 Vacancy WBP Observer Keith Thompson (Gensler) Correct as of July 2022




View from the top

ACI VIEWPOINT

ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, reflects on the key role new technology plays in the operation and ongoing development of the world’s airports.

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he recent momentum created by the lifting of many health measures and the relaxation of most travel restrictions in a growing number of countries has had a positive and immediate impact on global air traffic demand and has brought renewed industry optimism. With the northern summer season in full throttle, many airports however are dealing with operational challenges and limitations to airport capacity. IT initiatives can turn these challenges into opportunities by providing solutions to improve the overall airport system, including the passenger journey. In fact, according to the SITA Air Transport IT Insights report, 81% of airports are looking to maintain or even grow their IT spend in 2022. The report is based on the annual Airport IT Trends Survey, the most extensive study of IT trends within the global airport industry, done in collaboration with ACI World for the past 18 years. The prioritisation of IT innovation and the overall digital transformation of airports has many advantages, including reducing operational expenditure from staffing costs, simplifying and improving the passenger experience, implementing self-service solutions which include touchless processes, and quickening the rollout of biometrics. ACI World’s second edition of the Airport Digital Transformation Handbook is designed to support airports in their journey.

Key airport IT trends

Biometric ID management has been spoken about for the last decade, but only recently has it really been integrated into multiple airports, except perhaps in the case of border solutions. Nearly three quarters of airports will invest in biometric technology by 2024, improving security and operational efficiency for airports. We will see this not just at border control, but throughout the journey from check-in to self-boarding solutions aiming to reduce costs for both airports and airlines and reduce the processing times versus traditional manual checks. While we may be stating the obvious that airports will invest in touchless processes, one area that has been steadily rising in investment from airports is within cybersecurity. Due to the increasing dependence on technology and digital services, 94% of airport CIOs will be spending part of their budgets on improving cyber protection by 2024. ACI also serves its members by offering cyber support with different products available including our cyber self-assessment tool, Airport C-Suite executive level questionnaire, and advisory services. Two other key takeaways this year that are worth noting are business intelligence as airports look for ways to improve service and aeronautical spend per passenger, as well as the ultimate sustainability goal. Airports are looking to differentiate themselves based on environmental factors, and it is clear that reducing the carbon footprint at airports can be supported by a strategy of green IT.

Attracting future IT talent

There is no doubt that attracting IT talent is key to the sustainable growth and development of the aviation workforce, particularly as airports struggle with staffing levels. A lot of IT roles are encompassed in airport technologies from software developers, IT technicians, maintenance engineers, data scientists, project managers and cyber specialists to ensure there is sufficient capacity, user friendliness, and security across all airport technology. In fact, ACI World has launched its first cross-committee collaboration to produce a workforce of the future whitepaper, due to be published in the fourth quarter of this year.

ACI World IT Standing Committee

The ACI World IT Standing Committee (WAITSC) recently met again, under the leadership of chair Suhail Kamil Kadri (Hamad International Airport) and vice chair, Ian Law (LAWA). CIOs of major airports and world business partners focused their thinking and execution power on: ACRIS (Aviation Community Recommended Information Services), Cybersecurity, Digital Transformation, Smart Datahub, Staff challenges, and Digital Twin Transition. In addition, the chair announced that Tara Mulrooney (Edmonton International Airport) and Chris Au Young (Airport Authority Hong Kong) would soon assume leadership of the cybersecurity and digital transformation programmes. To support the digital transformation journey, ACI World is launching a first of its kind API platform. The idea was generated from the Health Measures Portal, where over 300 airports provided data in a standardised format, that was consumed by Apple Maps to provide timely, accessible data around health requirements pushed to over 1.2 billion Apple devices. ACI World is now looking to take this further by providing live data from airports across the world, digestible in a standardised ACRIS format in order to push essential data to consumers, improving the passenger experience, while reducing integration costs for its members. The ‘New Frontier project’ as it is called, will aim to be the next generation of live data sharing across the aviation community.

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AIRPORT REPORT: ONTARIO

ONT to betting things

CEO, Atif Elkadi, tells Joe Bates more about the transformation in Ontario International Airport’s fortunes over the last five years and its impressive recovery from the global pandemic.

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outhern California’s Ontario International Airport (ONT) is in a good place right now with ambitious owners, a committed and forward-looking management team, and more airlines and a bigger route network than before the global COVID pandemic. Indeed, the airport has reported that passenger numbers through its facilities has exceeded pre-pandemic levels since March 2022. If, as anticipated, the trend continues for the rest of the year, passenger volumes will exceed the 5.5 million which passed through ONT in 2019, ensuring that it regains its status as one of the US’s fastest growing airports and certainly right at the front of the queue in terms of the recovery from COVID. So, how has it achieved this much envied status? Well, the catalyst for change for ONT was without doubt when the city of Ontario and San Bernardino County assumed responsibility for operating and developing the former Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) run airport in November 2016. For sure LAWA had invested in the airport, but with its prime asset and top priority, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), being located just 55 miles away, many locals, led by Ontario city council member and now president of the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) Board of Commissioners, Alan Wapner, felt that a 100% ONT focused owner could bring out the best in the gateway. And history has proved them right as ONT reversed its traffic decline in early 2017 when on a percentage basis the airport experienced higher

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growth than LAX for the first time since 2007. A new, non-stop international route to Taipei (China Airlines) followed in 2018, and traffic numbers have more or less been on the rise ever since. Putting this in some kind of perspective, ONT CEO, Atif Elkadi, says: “Passenger volumes at the airport increased by 31% between ONT’s return to local control and the start of the global pandemic about three-and-a-half years later. “During this time we secured new airlines and introduced new destinations to Taipei, New York and Florida, and even during the pandemic we managed to add popular routes to Latin America [San Salvador, El Salvador] and Hawaii [Honolulu], Charlotte and Austin, domestically. “The new additions helped ONT became one of the first US airports to exceed pre-pandemic levels earlier this year, and with the support of our board and our great staff, I am confident that this upward trajectory will continue. “We are located at the centre of Southern California, which is a very large area with a population of around 24 million people and a rich and diverse economy, so the potential to develop the airport was always there, it just needed an owner with a laser beam focus on its development.”

The global appeal of Southern California

Elkadi, who wishes to make it clear that his comments imply no criticism whatsoever of LAWA or how it ran ONT, is also quick to note that Ontario is very much a destination in its own right and definitely


AIRPORT REPORT: ONTARIO

not just a cheaper or more convenient alternative option to LAX for passengers and airlines. “I am not a big fan of the word ‘alternative’ as it implies being the second best to something else when we have enough of a population around us to be their main airport,” states Elkadi. “ONT plays a very significant role in the state’s airport system. We serve the fastest growing population and economic centre not just in Southern California, but really across the whole of the US. “We are located at the heart of the Inland Empire [San Bernardino and Riverside counties], which is expected to grow from 4.7 million people today to more than seven million in 25 years. And, if we look at just this past year, we were the fifth fastest growing metropolitan area in the country with close to a thousand people a day moving here.” Elkadi notes that a lot of the new residents have moved to the area from neighbouring Los Angeles and Orange counties for “new careers, business opportunities and a better quality of life”. “We have more breathing room here as everything is quite spread out and we don’t all live on top of one another like you do in the big cities,” adds Elkadi. He admits that the new pandemic-driven global trend of allowing staff to work from home or only go into the office one or two days a week, has also proved a significant factor in many peoples’ decisions to relocate to Ontario and San Bernardino County. “When you factor in commute times, nearly 10 million Southern Californians live or work closer to ONT than any other airport,” Elkadi tells Airport World. At this point it is worth mentioning that although downtown Los Angeles is just 35 miles away and, with no traffic, can be reached by road in 30 minutes, during the daily morning commute the very same journey could take upwards of two-and-a-half hours. “If you look at the movement of people in California, people are tending to move inland, and although we might appear to have a lot of

airports, every one of them has its fair share of travellers, and ONT is no exception,” says Elkadi. “Unlike, say 20 to 30 years ago, the beauty of Southern California today is that people don’t all have to go to one particular airport to fly domestically or even internationally. Now people can choose the airport that is most convenient for them and closer to where they live and work. With our growing population, this makes ONT more appealing to locals than ever before.”

Traffic growth

The appeal of Ontario, Bernardino County and Southern California – promoted nationally and internationally by OIAA’s “sharply focused” route development team – meant that by March 2019 the airport’s route network had increased to 10 airlines operating non-stop services to 26 destinations. Today, it is served by 12 airlines operating services to 33 non-stop destinations including international services to Taipei, San Salvador in El Salvador and Guadalajara and Mexico City in Mexico. The newly added airlines and destinations meant that in June 2022, ONT’s carriers operated 502 weekly departures compared to 481 in June 2019. The figures equate to 4.4% more flights and 11.9% more seats being offered at the gateway than in the same month three years ago, despite the continued impact of the global pandemic on air travel in the US and around the world. Today’s route network ensures that domestic traffic currently accounts for more than 90% of the traffic at ONT, although the recent addition of Avianca flights to Latin America makes Elkadi confident that his airport can add more international services in the next few years, with a non-stop route to Europe being a key goal. He notes that pre-COVID, Europe, Vietnam and the Philippines were all international hot spots for Southern Californians departing ONT, all reaching their final destinations via connecting flights from another US airport for Europe or China Airlines’ Chinese Taipei service for cities in the Asia-Pacific region.

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AIRPORT REPORT: ONTARIO

Southwest Airlines is currently the biggest airline operator at ONT, accounting for around 41% of all passengers passing through its facilities. The top five airlines for passenger traffic at ONT is completed by American Airlines (15%), Delta (13%), Frontier (8%), and United (7%). The busiest domestic services served from ONT are to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Denver (DEN), Phoenix (PHX), Seattle (SEA) and Sacramento (SMF), traffic to the latter being driven by the fact that it is the state capital, and a lot of elected officials live in the Ontario area. When seeking to attract new airlines, Elkadi notes that in addition to the many attractions of Ontario and Southern California, anyone launching new services at the airport know that they have room to grow at ONT as its existing facilities are not capacity constrained or overly congested during peak periods. This has certainly proved true for China Airlines, which after originally introducing four weekly flights between ONT and Taipei (TPE), switched to daily services before the pandemic due to the high demand for seats. The airline is set to resume the service in July 2022. When it comes to cargo, as previously reported in Airport World, ONT is a major success story having achieved the status of being one of the Top 10 busiest cargo gateways in North America. The airport handled nearly 900,000 tons of cargo in 2021 – double the volumes of a decade ago – and is set to handle roughly the same amount this year, Elkadi once again attributing ONT success to its Inland Empire location, which is home to Southern California’s supply chain network. Three major freight and e-commerce operators (FedEx, UPS and Amazon) are also based at ONT ensuring a steady flow of shipments through the airport. Elkadi says: “Cargo is a critical part of our overall business operation and one more reason why ONT is such a key economic engine for our region. “It is all too easy to forget the importance of cargo, which for us, is a silent revenue driver, helped, of course, by our location and nearby interstate road and rail connections. We all like to talk about passenger services, and that’s great, but cargo is a big part of our success story as well.” Summing up ONT’s route development philosophy, Elkadi says: “Our focus remains on developing both international and domestic services.

“Nothing has necessarily been put on the backburner because of the global pandemic. In fact, it gave us the opportunity to focus on what we need to do get new routes to Europe and whether we currently have the facilities to hold all the growth that we are anticipating.”

Future development

Elkadi, who was appointed CEO of OIAA in April 2022 but has been at the airport since 2017, reveals that he is excited by the opportunities and challenges ahead for his gateway, one of which is to help finalise the master plan for the next phase of ONT’s development. The airport recently secured $50 million in funding to begin the extensive renovation/upgrade of its runways and taxiways, and longer term is looking at whether it will need a dedicated international terminal and a transit centre to connect future transportation options potentially coming to the region. He notes that the transport options include a zero-emissions bus rapid transit system and possibly a new tunnel linking ONT with a commuter rail station four miles away. All the potential projects have the support of the City of Ontario, San Bernardino County Transportation Authority and local mass transportation system provider, Omnitrans. “We are lucky to have the support of local leaders, elected officials and board members who have the vision to plan for the future before ONT becomes a victim of its own success,” comments Elkadi. “They understand that growth will happen here, so want to make sure that we are proactive and ensure that we don’t eventually get the congestion here that you might find in other places. “It must be remembered that when it comes to infrastructure development, we have to consider what might be required in 20 to 30 years from now, so considering whether we might need a dedicated international terminal, what it will look like and what needs to be done to make it happen, if it does, makes sense.” The airport currently has two terminals (Terminal 2 and Terminal 4), which between them are equipped to handle around 15 million passengers per annum, although Elkadi accepts that this figure could be higher due to the rapid advancement of new technologies.

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AIRPORT REPORT: ONTARIO

Embracing new touchless technologies

When it comes to new technology, Elkadi is more than aware of the potential operational and financial benefits it can bring, and for these reasons he says that ONT is determined to ensure that touchless technology is incorporated into everything new it does, going forward. The new restaurants and duty free offerings set to open at ONT later this year, for example, will feature contactless ordering options, while the new Evolve store operated by one of ONT’s bigger retail partner, Hudson’s, will only boast touchless technology. Passengers enrolled with CLEAR’s biometric identity programme are already able to fast track their way through security lanes at ONT through the use of touchless technology. Elkadi, however, knows that providing a great customer experience is not just about technology, so the airport ensures that there are always enough people on duty in the terminals to personally assist passengers or help those that prefer the human touch.

Hosting SMART Airports & Regions Conference

Elkadi is looking forward to ONT hosting the upcoming SMART Airports & Regions Conference and Exhibition in Ontario this July, which he is confident will showcase the very best of the city and region to a global audience. “We have a really great story to tell, and I know a lot of people say that when they talk about their brands and products, but our story of growth and development involves the whole community and not just the airport. “We’re excited to host the event and really want the rest of the world to see what we’ve achieved, what we have to offer, and what’s to come in the future.”

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ONT’s first duty free store to open this year

When it opens later this year, the new 3Sixty Duty Free store in ONT’s Terminal 2 will become the only duty free outlet in Southern California outside of the stores at Los Angeles International Airport. And the significance isn’t lost on ONT CEO, Atif Elkadi, who says that he is frequently asked by passengers flying to Taipei why his airport doesn’t have any duty free stores. “Travellers from Asia are traditionally high spenders in airport duty free shops, so we expect the new 3Sixty Duty Free outlet to significantly boost our retail revenues,” he enthuses. Previously known as DFASS Group, 3Sixty Duty Free has signed a 10-year duty free concession with Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA), which is expected to begin in late summer 2022.

In good hands

ONT certainly appears to be in good hands under the ownership of OIAA and the leadership of Atif Elkadi, whose calm manner and friendly demeanour ensure that he has quickly adapted to his new role. In fact, when you ask him about stepping into the hot seat at ONT, he jokes that nothing much has changed for him apart from having to attend a lot more meetings! He concludes: “I am enjoying the challenge and really looking forward to helping shape the future of Ontario International Airport and travel to Southern California. “The Southern California Association of Governments [SCAG] has gone on record as putting our long-term capacity at a little over 30 million passengers per annum. So, we have plenty of scope for growth.”

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SPECIAL REPORT: IT INNOVATION

Investing in sustainability Carlos Kaduoka, SITA’s head of business strategy for airports, considers how new technology will play a key role in helping airports respond to the demands for a greener industry.

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he travel recovery is well underway. As the summer travel season approaches, airlines and airports have been caught off guard by the speed of recovery. The aviation industry is struggling to deal with the spike in passenger volumes due to staff shortages, leading to disruption, including flight delays and cancellations. While the industry battles to manage this unexpected boom, another challenge is looming on the horizon. As air travel rebounds, emissions are inevitably rising and set to increase as demand for travel is anticipated to grow beyond pre-pandemic levels. Having, in 2021, committed to an ambitious carbon net-zero goal by 2050, airports need to address how they make their existing and future operations sustainable. The faster the growth, the bigger the challenge. At the same time, passengers are also demanding more sustainable IT approaches and choices for travel. The good news is that the industry has already taken steps to reduce its emissions. According to the findings of Air Transport IT Insights, SITA’s global benchmarking survey of IT trends in air transport, airports are prioritising technology investments to help them operate in an environmentally responsible way, now and in the future.

Environmental considerations in IT management and governance SITA’s report states that by the end of 2024, 62% of airports will have an overall IT management policy or framework in place that includes environmental impacts. It also reveals that airports will concentrate on getting the most value from IT equipment through IT lifecycle management controls and including environmental considerations in the selection criteria for IT purchases.

The shift from paper to digital

The study also reveals that behavioural policies or controls to discourage printing and reduce paper consumption to favour environmentally

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responsible print materials will be commonplace in airports by 2024. This appears to be consistent with the industry shift to greater digitalisation for more efficient operations and faster, automated journeys.

Sustainable design

Major airports worldwide are adopting digital and mobile technology – self-service, biometrics, and touchless solutions – to process passengers quickly and efficiently, replacing paper-based processes. More eco-friendly passenger processing hardware, kiosks like SITA’s new TS6 Kiosk, are likely to become more prevalent with the trend of environmental impacts influencing IT decision-making and management. Frankfurt Airport and Václav Havel Airport in Prague are two airports that have upgraded their passenger processing with the award-winning SITA Smart Path TS6 Kiosk, which incorporates sustainable design features including modularity, longevity, durability, and energy efficiency.

Energy efficiencies using IT

Unsurprisingly, energy efficiency is a key area being addressed by airports today because they consume significant amounts of energy to operate their buildings and services. It includes energy consumption in the heating, lighting, and cooling of a terminal and for powering IT systems that support the day-to-day operations of an airport, including passenger services, ground vehicles, and airside services. This focus on energy efficiency is consistent with SITA’s report findings that 73% of airports will have policies or physical systems that promote energy savings in place by 2024. The report confirms that many airports have already implemented greener building infrastructure – an area also most favoured by passengers according to SITA’s 2020 passenger-focused report: ‘Passenger IT Insights’. Greener infrastructure covers areas like natural lighting, green spaces, the use of renewable energy, as well as smarter building controls.


SPECIAL REPORT: IT INNOVATION

As part of this trend for energy-efficient infrastructure, there is a continued focus by airports on their physical data centres. Around 63% of airports will have shifted their physical data centres to energyefficient cloud-based facilities by the end of 2024, according to SITA’s 2021 Air Transport Insights. The onsite power consumption and ongoing maintenance of dedicated onsite data centres appear unsustainable for many airports favouring cloud-based data centres. Another example of how IT is helping airports to drive greater efficiencies in energy use is at the airside. ACI’s Aircraft Ground Energy System Simulator (AGES-S) is a simulation tool that helps airports calculate the reduction of fuel consumption by replacing the use of aircraft Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) with more efficient aircraft ground energy systems (AGES). AGES provide both pre-flight electricity and pre-conditioned air for aircraft on the ground.

New IT to proactively cut emissions

Looking forward, a key area of focus will be how airports can make their operations more efficient – efficiencies that can help save the aviation industry 10% in carbon emissions, according to ATAG’s Waypoint 2050 report. SITA’s IT Insights reveals that while airports are clearly focusing on the environmental impacts of the technology they buy and use, many plan to implement business and artificial intelligence solutions to enhance their overall operations. Greater intelligence will drive greater efficiencies supporting airports’ decarbonisation efforts. These innovative technologies utilise data analytics – combining big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning technologies – to reduce fuel use, CO2 emissions, and pollution. New IT to support sustainability is a highly valued area among passengers, as reflected in SITA’s 2020 passenger-focused research. Landing and take-off cycles represent the largest source of local emissions at an airport. Categorised as ‘Scope 3’ greenhouse gas emissions because they are not under the direct control of an airport, they are the most challenging scope of emissions to measure, report, and address. This reinforces the importance of collaborative-decision making among airport stakeholders, including airlines, ground handlers, and many others. The introduction of the Airport CDM (A-CDM) solution to

some airports in Europe has demonstrated environmental and operational benefits, including a reduction in fuel burn and greenhouse gas emissions. New emission calculation technologies, like SITA Emissions Manager, are also being trialled by airports today to help improve their understanding of the source and extent of emissions, in order to implement a more effective mitigation plan.

Overall IT Trends in 2022 and beyond

We see a growing trend among airports for business intelligence solutions that give greater visibility across operations to not only deliver environmental gains, but also to improve collaboration among stakeholders, bring cost savings and give greater agility to respond to changing conditions. Today, leaner and more nimble operations are critical for airports, given the increasing passenger volumes and the industry’s revenue losses following the pandemic. Automation will continue to be a priority for airports to support a seamless and sustainable passenger experience. The convenience and reduced processing times associated with mobile, automated, and self-service passenger processing technologies supported by more eco-friendly hardware will be well received by passengers. The trend for automation and business intelligence solutions applies to regional and domestic airports in the same way they do for international hubs. When travelling regionally or domestically, passengers will want the same digital experience they get in an international airport. This is where unified digital travel systems will gain increasing importance, particularly with the rise of intermodal travel and leveraging blockchain technology to securely share passengers’ digital identities across the various travel stakeholders to simplify the passenger journey across land, sea, and air. Becoming carbon net-zero by 2050 will be no easy feat for airports; after all, the solutions to support the net-zero journey are not all readily available or affordable today. However, airports are underway with infrastructure and operational efficiencies using technology, underpinned by more robust controls and governance, to deliver a more seamless and sustainable travel experience.

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AW

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Eliminating threats

Genetec’s Simon Barnes assesses the risks of IoT devices in airports and the need for a joint approach to cyber and physical security to secure networks.

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he ever-expanding catalogue of ‘smart devices’ is revolutionising airport operations. Innovative technology is directly improving the passenger experience and making operations more efficient. One of the biggest areas where this technology is making a difference for airports is security. When it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT), security teams are modernising their practices to keep passengers, airport staff and airline staff running smoothly. Indeed, IoT security devices are invaluable to security teams. Security operators are using IoT tools to help secure the perimeter from intrusions, control access to terminals or runways and support Customs and Immigration checks, to keep passengers flowing through the airport. Tasks that were once time-intensive and stretched manpower to untenable levels are now automated. By trusting the devices to do the legwork, security staff can stay constantly aware of the bigger picture, and stay informed of which issues are urgent, and which are distractions. IoT devices introduce efficient and effective layers of security to operations, with greater real-time visibility across the entire airport. However, risks increase when these devices are poorly managed or configured, opening a potential entry point for cyber intrusions. It is now apparent that physical and cybersecurity need to work in tandem to protect people as well as digital assets.

IoT innovation to improve physical security

IoT is paving the way for digital transformation in the physical security space. Airport security teams are receiving more data that is insightful and actionable when informed decision making is required. With the ability to capture and analyse information, threats are identified sooner, responded to faster, and robust standard procedures are developed to prevent similar threats in the future.

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For threats approaching the airport, LiDAR based technology can enhance perimeter security with accurate detection, which allows operators to locate real threats and intruders on the fence line. Airports can also opt to pair this sensing method with highdefinition IP cameras that will allow them to focus on a target area for visual confirmation if an alarm is triggered or multiple targets need to be tracked. Advanced access control systems are also working to keep doors and gates within airport facilities locked and sensitive areas secure. Any unauthorised breach of a restricted security area will alert the appropriate teams in real-time for a quick measured response. Access can also be granted remotely, which improves emergency response times compared to the use of a physical key, which would require security staff to leave their station. Handing over a physical key invites a whole new set of security risks, so teams are now granting access remotely. Remote access control will leave a digital trail of evidence for auditing, making it easier for security teams to investigate incidents, generate reports and stay compliant with regulations. Moreover, a smart badging solution, can also help automate background checks of staff before granting them access to areas. It can flag the appropriate people on your team when authorisations and qualifications are about to expire, access control needs to be updated due to employee role changes, or when badges haven’t been returned on time. This reduces human error from manual processing and helps operators’ get a better understanding of where employees and contractors can go within the airport complex.


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Protecting your physical security from cyber threats

Introducing IoT devices to improve physical security means a sharp increase in data. These devices require high computing power and good internet traffic throughput, which makes them a top target for cyber criminals. When not secured properly, any camera, access control system or IoT device can be accessed remotely by just about anyone including unfriendly countries and their agents, with potential to destabilise airport operations or leak private data. This is where security operators will see the value of deploying a unified physical security solution that integrates video surveillance, Automatic Licence Plate Recognition (ANPR), access control, intrusion detection and more. With a unified platform, security teams will always have access to the latest features, including granular privacy controls and strong user authentication to protect sensitive data. A unified solution also enables operators to monitor and maintain the health of disparate systems across the entire network. IoT devices can become insecure later down the line, as manufacturers stop updates for older devices, or security teams struggle to keep these security measures updated. Managing these devices through a single platform can assist here. Regular system health checks are deployed to check the hygiene of all connected devices. Operators are then forewarned when a device is not running the most secure firmware or has a weak password.

Security starts with the supply chain

Another way to build cyber and physical security resilience is to take a closer look at the end-to-end supply chain and build a network of trusted vendors. Effective supply chain risk management is essential for ensuring the continuity and profitability of any airport. However, the same principle should apply to the vendors that provide the various components of your physical security system, and even those that install or service technical equipment. Operators should be vigilant when purchasing devices. Investigate suppliers to know if they are compliant with security and data protection measures. It is also essential to know their history of

cyber-attacks, including what measures were taken to prevent similar attacks from occurring again.

Zero-trust mindset

Senior management across all areas of airport operations will see the operational efficiency benefits of a IoT devices. However, the introduction of new technology opens up the possibility of risks caused by human-error. A unified security platform can assist here as it simplifies staff onboarding with standardised processes and training tools. Nevertheless, security operators must introduce a zero-trust mindset to keep staff aware of threats to cyber and physical security. The role of senior management is to make a commitment to zero-trust and encourage the same for their staff. The first response to an access request should be to authenticate it with the security team, whether that’s at the gate, or with a suspicious looking email link. When introducing new technology to employees, don’t take for granted that they are already doing the basics. Seemingly insignificant prompts to discourage obvious passwords or advice on how to spot phishing attacks will protect the investments that are made in new technology.

Conclusion

Managing IoT devices and connections is essential in keeping the airport landscape secure, which is why security teams need to know they can trust and rely on their security devices. With an innovative unified solution, the ease in which operations can be made more efficient and the speed in which urgent decisions can be made makes it invaluable. And with the additional support in managing cyber threats, operators can be certain that they are doing everything they can to secure their physical and digital realms from potential harm.

AW

About the author

Simon Barnes is Genetec’s business development manager for airports.

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Tech talk

Joe Bates takes a closer look at some of the most innovative IT stories to have made headlines across the globe in the first half of 2022. Duty calls for assistance robots

Bengaluru-Kempegowda in India and Christchurch in New Zealand have become the latest airports to embrace humanoid technology – the former on a trial basis and the latter permanently. Both have enlisted the help of Pepper, the AI-driven assistant robot to help passengers with routine enquiries, hopefully enhancing the airport experience for all they encounter. In the case of Kempegowda, the gateway notes that 10 robots are currently on trial and being deployed to help guide passengers through the airport and answer basic queries. The airport has partnered with AI and robotics specialist, Artiligent Solutions Pvt Ltd, to model the robots along with creating a customised passenger services software. The default language of communication will be English, with additional regional and international languages in the offing. Jayaraj Shanmugam, chief operating officer of Kempegowda operator, BIAL, said that the airport prides itself on being a trendsetter when it comes to blending innovation and providing a seamless experience to passengers. “Pre-empting passenger requirements and complementing new-age technology with a focused customer-centric team approach has been our winning combination,” said Shanmugam. “These smart robots are the latest addition to our offering which shall further boost our concentrated endeavour to provide exceptional customer service.” Meanwhile in New Zealand, Christchurch Airport has decided to locate its own humanoid member of staff (pictured above) ahead of the security screening area for domestic flights so that it can help put passengers at ease before passing through security. Craig Dunstan, operator CIAL’s manager for park to plane customer experience, said: “Our humanoid robot Pepper interacts beautifully to help improve our passenger journey. “Following a successful trial, Pepper is routinely located at the front of domestic Aviation Security Screening to educate passengers on the process ahead.

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“What we have found is that not only is the message helpful, but passengers naturally enjoy the rather fun interaction and [welcome] distraction that Pepper offers, at what can be a pressure-point for many. “Working alongside people counting technology to help advise the queue processing time, this area is operating more efficiently than ever to ensure passenger safety. It is a great team effort to make things even better for our customers.” Pepper stands just 120cm tall and first appeared at the airport in mid-2019. It is said to be able to recognise faces and basic human emotions, respond to requests made on the touch screen on its chest, hold a conversation and entertain as well as inform. Not surprisingly, children passing through the airport find the robot fascinating and pose for photos with it, or join other children-focused activities in the terminal.

Transforming turnaround times at Gatwick

London’s Gatwick Airport believes that it has developed a new handheld digital platform that will transform the efficiency of aircraft turnarounds, reducing delays and unnecessary fuel burn on the ground. Its AirTurn platform allows ground handlers to update air traffic controllers about changes to the turn process – in real time, direct from the apron. This means that information can be communicated more quickly on changes to turn events – such as updates on baggage loading, refuelling or other aircraft preparations – giving the control tower a more accurate, real-time departure or Target Off-Block Time (TOBT) to feed into the airport’s overall flying programme. Without the system, changes to aircraft turn events are updated through paperwork and radio communications – sometimes between several individuals at different locations – before being recorded into the system and communicated to the control tower and subsequently EUROCONTROL. The AirTurn platform is accessed directly through Gatwick’s Community App, which is already widely used by ground handling staff


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across the airport. It is also used by many other airports worldwide, including airports in VINCI Airports global network, and therefore has the potential to be rolled out across many other gateways. The global airport operator, which holds a controlling 50.01% stake in Gatwick, notes that the innovation is part of its strategy to improve airport infrastructure and management, including the dissemination of innovative ideas across its network of 53 airports in 12 countries. It states that “Gatwick is an innovation centre of excellence for VINCI Airports and AirTurn is the latest in a number of innovative solutions pioneered by the airport that are now used in other airports in the VINCI Airports network, including the Airport Community App”. Both AirTurn and the Airport Community App were developed in partnership with AirportLabs. Gatwick’s innovation and commercial IT manager, Karl Sulsh, said: “We are delighted to offer our new AirTurn platform more widely to our partners at Gatwick Airport, in what is a step forward in reducing delays and improving on-time performance. “We created the platform after listening to our ground handlers and have delivered a digital solution that improves communication and provides fast, accurate information from the airfield in real time.”

Beating the security queues at JFK’s Terminal 4

CLEAR and JFKIAT, the operator of Terminal 4 at John F Kennedy International Airport, have announced the launch of a free virtual queuing programme at Terminal 4. JFK T4 Reserve powered by CLEAR allows travellers using the terminal to plan ahead and reserve a dedicated security lane time slot – giving them a more predictable and stress-free travel experience. “This innovative programme will help to ensure that we are continuing to provide an efficient, best-in-class experience for all travelling through Terminal 4,” said Roel Huinink, president and CEO of JFKIAT. “We are committed to integrating cutting-edge technologies that will bolster our operations, and we are proud to collaborate with CLEAR to introduce this initiative to our customers.” Reservations can be made online up to 72 hours in advance of a flight’s scheduled departure with available times based on the passenger’s selected flight; slots are available starting at least 60 minutes before domestic flights and at least 75 minutes before international flights. The dedicated JFK Reserve security entry point is open between 5am and 10am – the security checkpoint’s busiest time.

CLEAR first lauched its free checkpoint reservation system at Orlando International Airport (MCO) in October 2021. Other North American gateways airports offering Reserve include Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), and Calgary International Airport (YYC).

Smart baggage solution at Zurich Airport

AirPortr, the digital platform and provider of smart baggage management solutions, has expanded its successful partnership with Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) and its strategic collaboration with Swissport to offer innovative new baggage services at Zurich Airport, following a successful trial phase at Geneva Airport. It is claimed that “underpinned by state-of-the-art, customer-centric technology, the smart baggage offering is the first of its kind, streamlining the customer journey for departing passengers by allowing them to travel to the airport baggage-free – bypassing terminal congestion and potential queues at check-in – and head straight to security”. On arrival, passengers can avoid the wait for their bags at the carousel after landing, instead heading straight to their final destination, baggage-free. According to Airportr, the implementation of the baggage offering creates a seamless, contact-free doorstep to destination and back again service and, it notes, creates new opportunities for passengers to travel to and from the airport via public transport, driving more sustainable, intermodal travel. Randel Darby, founder and CEO of AirPortr, said: “The launch of this new offering with our partners Swissport, SWISS and SBB represents a major progressive step toward enabling intermodal journeys for travellers and world class fly-rail transport systems of the future. “Not only will it remove major pain points currently experienced by departing and arriving passengers, but it will also reduce queuing in the terminal, particularly at peak times. This creates compelling benefits for airlines and airport operators, helping them to realise tangible operational efficiencies, improve the customer experience and meet their sustainability targets.”

AA2000 turns to Veovo to improve operations and passenger flows

Argentina’s two busiest airports, Buenos Aires’ Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) and Aeropuerto Internacional Ezeiza (EZE), have implemented Veovo’s Passenger Predictability solution to optimise operations and improve passenger flows.

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The solution, adopted by airport operator Argentina 2000 (AA2000) earlier this year, is expected to reduce queues and improve the efficiency of security, immigration, baggage hall and border control operations at each airport. The AI-powered cloud software measures passenger movement and offers live and predictive insight into customer behaviour. By aggregating data from multiple sensors and data sources, the analytics platform delivers valuable metrics such as occupancy, predicted wait times and lane productivity. This, according to Veovo, allows airports and their partners to take more informed decisions and make passenger processing as efficient and smooth as possible. Thanks to the integration with live queue wait-time information displays and airport apps, passengers have accurate information to help them take control of their journey and reduce stress. AA2000’s general manager for Ezeiza, Sebastián Villar Guarino, said: “This technology allows Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 to have complete passenger flow visibility, helping us make informed decisions to deliver a better-quality passenger experience. This is a key step in the AA2000 strategy to develop a smart and digital airport.” Aeroparque Jorge Newbery and Aeropuerto Internacional Ezeiza join global gateways such as New York JFK, Amsterdam Schiphol, Auckland and London Gatwick in adopting Veovo’s flow analytics solutions.

Lift-off for touchless elevators in Chongqing

Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport in western China is to install voice and hand gesture recognition technology in 100 elevators in the gateway’s new Terminal 3B to eliminate the need for users to make contact with any buttons or public surfaces. Supplied by TK Elevator, the new technology will allow passengers to call and operate the elevator through hand gestures and voice commands. This, it says, will help avoid physical interaction with elevator surfaces and buttons that are prone to attracting viruses and bacteria. “New ideas are essential to raising transportation hubs to new levels of efficiency,” says Jürgen Böhler, CEO of TK Elevator Asia Pacific. “As a mobility partner, we pride ourself on understanding and quickly responding to the needs of customers and passengers alike. Our customised elevator operating solutions for the airport in Chongqing further underlines this strength.” The new elevators are in addition to more than 300 previously installed at Chongqing Jiangbei by TK Elevator.

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New Seamless Kiosk

Vision-Box has unveiled its latest solution built upon a new generation of biometric technology, which it believes will help transform the travel experience – the Seamless Kiosk. It believes that the new kiosk will provide an “exceptional user experience through its biometric and biographic capture performance”, which it states will increase the passenger handling process speed with an accessible design and a smart passenger guide system, based on artificial intelligence that better helps any user to follow the instructions intuitively with a new immersive camera system. The kiosk is equipped with an audible and highly tactile assistive interface for navigation and selection of screen-based content and braille signs to support passengers with impaired vision, an inability to read, restricted reach, or limited dexterity. It is also compliant with Europe, United States and Canada’s disability acts. With a small footprint, Vision-Box’s latest solution combines the newest Common Use Self-Service (CUSS) 2.0 platform and Border Control processing, including Entry/Exit System (EES) requirements. Alessandro Minucci, Vision-Box’s head of product, called the Seamless Kiosk a “a truly nimble device”, which he believes ensures the best seamless experience, with the highest accuracy and speed via a biometric-by-design solution.

SITA and Alstef unveil Swift Drop

SITA has signed a partnership agreement with Alstef Group, an established baggage handling specialist, to launch Swift Drop, a new self-bag drop solution that it claims “significantly speeds up the experience of checking your own bag”. Mexico City’s brand new Felipe Ángeles International Airport, opened in late March, has become the first airport globally to install 20 Swift Drop units. According to its creators, “the fast, intuitive interface means passengers can quickly check their bags, avoiding long queues at traditional check-in points”. Passengers simply print their own bag tags without need for assistance and load their baggage directly onto the accessible conveyor. Part of SITA’s Smart Path passenger processing portfolio, Swift Drop, essentially comprises SITA’s TS6 Kiosk and Alstef Group’s fully integrated bag processing solution. Advanced camera tag-reading technology should ensure that baggage will be processed faster, with an average first-time tag read rate of 95%. Drew Griffiths, head of SITA AT AIRPORTS, said: “The partnership with Alstef Group – leveraging their significant baggage handling portfolio – enriches our end-to-end offering with a fast, convenient, and reliable self-bag drop solution. This solution has the added benefit of being easily biometrically enabled.”

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The clock is ticking

It is time to apply a ‘warp-speed mindset’ to the digital transformation of airport operations to accommodate future growth, improve the passenger journey, respond to disruptions and optimise operational efficiencies from ground operations to ticketing, writes Charlie Meyer.

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t the onset of the pandemic, as we all waited for vaccines to be made available, many experts warned the public that it could be years before a viable vaccine would be available. And yet, by December of 2020, the Operation Ward Speed programme delivered the first US shipments of the joint Pfizer– BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, ready to distribute to the public. Looking at Operation Warp Speed to see how this was made possible — and looking for ways to apply this to advancing technologies in other industries — three key factors stand out. First, there was a demand for what they were doing; second, there were years of research to leverage; and finally, the programme received immense amounts of funding. All of these converged into what some are calling a ‘warp-speed mindset’ that could be applied to other areas of need in the world. And of the many industries that were disrupted by the pandemic and would most benefit by extreme advancement of technology — often termed as a ‘digital transformation’ — the aviation industry has emerged as one that is ripe for transformation with a similar warpspeed mindset that the US government leveraged to such great success in their mission to provide vaccines.

the industry, we can see that two of the top target benefits are improving the passenger journey, and upgrading operational efficiency, both in terms of capacity enhancement and enhanced operational resilience and agility.

What areas of airport operations have the greatest need for digital transformation?

Operational efficiency

While there exist many areas ripe for transformation, for those looking to accelerate their digital transformation journeys, it is important to first pinpoint a couple of priorities as a starting point. Perusing a whitepaper about the digital transformation needs of airport operations, which queried many of the top business leaders in

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Passenger journey

Too often, when we think of the passenger journey at an airport, we only think of the stress of going through the various processes and making our flight on time. But airport operators across the world are looking to change that narrative and reduce time spent in queues — like ticketing, baggage, and security — as much as possible to encourage passengers to enjoy themselves in the various shops and restaurants available to them at their leisure. With this goal in mind, airports must look to implement technologies that facilitate these improvements by pushing real-time travel information directly to passengers. This will permit travellers to plan ahead for any changes to their trip and timing, guide them along their entire travel journey through mobile apps on their phone, and increase self-service options available to passengers to decrease the amount of time waiting to be served in a queue.

Although everything outlined above has an immense impact on the passenger journey and their customer experience, without efficient and agile processes in their ground activities — like security, runway operations, and baggage handling — you will still force passengers to experience the same delays and cancellations that have become all too familiar in the industry.


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To achieve operational efficiency, airports need to research and invest in technologies that facilitate a streamlined approach and can allow you to automate ground activities like luggage management and security check; automate proactive measures for anticipated delays due to factors like weather or technology outages with AI; and provide real-time monitoring of operations to promote swift responses to any issues.

What technologies can be leveraged to digitally transform airport operations?

When it comes to available technologies that can be leveraged to achieve the goals of airports’ digital transformation journeys, the possibilities are vast, and several areas have already seen great advancements in recent years. Among the top five areas of digital technologies to help reduce operational costs that were identified by airport business leaders in the whitepaper from Amadeus, the top two — cloud technology and advanced analytics — have already accomplished great strides across the entire industry and now are being seen as a minimum requirement in today’s modern airline industry. While some of the other top areas of technology — like Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual modelling/simulations — have seen significant progress in recent years, most airports are just scratching the surface of their potential. Business leaders across the industry are pointing to these technologies as part of the future of digital transformation in the airline industry.

Internet of Things

Airport operations rely on a large and diverse volume of physical assets — including mobile assets like push tractors or fixed assets like escalators — and advancements in the area of remote sensors and other IoT-enabled devices could allow airports to leverage the real-time data they receive from sensors installed on this equipment to always have full visibility into where their assets are and to stay ahead of any maintenance issues that could cause major operation disruptions.

Virtual modeling and simulation

With IoT available to transform how physical assets are managed, many airports are also looking to virtual modelling and simulations to help them do the same with their human resources.

By relying on simulation technologies, airports can much more accurately anticipate the areas of their operations with the greatest need for more human resources at peak times to maximise passenger flow, and can enable them to predict how any major managerial decisions could impact the passenger journey. Another major application of this technology is flight management performance by forecasting the impact of flight delays and optimising runway capacity.

Software as a Service

With the right queue management software, airport operators can decrease crowds and reduce congestion in the high-congestion areas of their facilities, eliminate the necessity to hire extra staff to manage queues and congestion, and even, in some cases, completely remove the need for physical queues. All of this will allow airport operators to deliver faster, more efficient services, while improving your operations overall and eliminate the need for unnecessary costs or extra staff.

The future of digital transformation in the aviation industry

While some may look at these various technological advancements as somewhat of a luxury for airports at a time where they are struggling to simply continue operating, there are many experts saying that failing to catch up to these changing trends could leave airports at a massive disadvantage in terms of operational efficiency and financial stability. Among the top risks of not adopting some of the many emerging technologies listed by industry business leaders was the creation of a non-competitive business model, an inferior operational performance, long-term structural cost disadvantages, and sunk costs, losses, and failed investments. With the aviation industry still in a state of uncertainty – with great change remaining on the horizon for at least the foreseeable future – no airport or airline can afford to incur these risks if they wish to remain effective and competitive, while still providing the passenger experience that is necessary today. AW

About the author

Charlie Meyer is the senior vice president of sales and leads the North American sales team at QLess.

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Forward thinking

As borders begin to re-open, is it time for APAC airports to reconsider how they will look and digitally interact with passengers in the future? Amadeus’ senior vice president of airport and airline operations for the region, Sarah Samuel, investigates.

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hen the pandemic emerged in 2019, Asia-Pacific was the first to feel its impact. And now as recovery occurs around the world, it seems Asia-Pacific will be the last to shed those impacts. Yet, over the past few months, there have been signs of recovery in the Asia-Pacific market, and as border controls begin to ease, pent up demand for travel is being unleashed. There are priorities we need to look at as we re-open. Like many industries, we must combat the reduction we’ve seen in our workforce and reduce friction for the traveller wherever possible. However, we must also look further forward beyond these initial priorities. In my view, we must find our ‘big vision’, by stepping back to consider the full travel journey, before zooming in on airports within the context of a more connected overall passenger experience. There’s a wealth of value to create for the traveller.

The immediate priority: getting back off the ground

Rehiring will be a key element of this, but the reality is that workforces cannot be built back up immediately. Whilst the importance of maintaining operations, reducing queue time, and ensuring an overall positive passenger experience is clear, many workers have stepped into permanent roles in other industries. This necessitates a drive for innovative solutions using technology. And we’re already seeing airports in the region respond by turning to automation. At present, automated immigration is often only available to citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders meaning all other travellers must queue to be manually processed by an agent at a counter.

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Yet, with an increased focus on chipping passports, airports are looking to auto-gates to deliver the majority of passenger processing at immigration, leaving agents to deal with any exceptions. The same goes for all areas of the airport. There’s a real drive for auto-bag drop units and biometrics, for example, to remove manual touchpoints and enable passengers to transit seamlessly from check-in to boarding despite staff shortages.

Streamlining health checking practices

One of the crucial lessons of the pandemic has been the need for preparation and standardisation. Whilst automation has the potential to reduce friction for the passenger, it must extend beyond visas and passports to also become viable for health documentation. Amadeus Traveler ID – a platform that digitalises identity and health documents – is an important technological evolution within this context. It’s interoperable and can be integrated into other digital health passes such as the EU Digital COVID certificate. And, in April 2020, it passed the milestone of 10 million documents verified. So, from a technological standpoint, this is already possible, but complexity is added when different countries, and in some cases different states within countries, have varying rules regarding the vaccinations and health documentation required in order to travel. During the pandemic, health checking processes had to happen manually as a result. Looking to the future, agreeing upon a single standard would be ideal. This would also create a more fluid airport environment where agents are able to roam with mobile devices and ensure fast processing rather than being tied to a desk. If we look at a previous example, it took considerable time to get all stakeholders to agree upon the 2D barcode which is now commonplace


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on our boarding passes. Yet, once these sorts of standards are in place, operations become far simpler and more efficient.

Moving towards the bigger picture

With a move towards automation and standardisation in motion, it’s important that airports connect these evolutions to the bigger picture. In essence, digital progression must be designed at the strategic level instead of individual projects. At present, technological innovations are adopted with the short-term in mind. An airport is experiencing problem ‘X’, and therefore looks to solution ‘Y’ to fix it, before moving on to the next priority. Almost all airports will be looking to reduce the number of desks and kiosks in their departure halls, and automation will be part of this journey. But there will also be significant differences. Larger airports, for example, may see themselves transitioning into big entertainment centres and destinations whilst others may envisage becoming streamlined, bus-stop, style airports. It is generally understood that the departure hall of the future will be different, but it’s important to consider how that looks for your airport and choose a technological strategy accordingly.

Connecting airports to the wider travel ecosystem

To really take a long-term strategic view, I argue we need to consider the future needs of travellers and how the end-to-end passenger experience can be enhanced. For airports, a clear opportunity is increased personalisation. This personalisation is in part made possible by the ‘super app’, which airports are now using for steps like check-in and retail, as a means of forming a direct relationship with the traveller. Let’s look at an example of the personalisation made possible once a traveller has agreed to sharing data when interacting with an airport’s super app. Let’s say a large family with young children is travelling and will be transiting via Singapore’s Changi International Airport for a connecting flight. Traditionally, Changi (in this example) wouldn’t know this group was due to be at the airport. Leveraging traveller insights, the airport may decide to offer the best possible experience via personalisation.

Pre-arrival, the airport reaches out to offer the family friendly lounge at a charge. This information is welcome as the family would be far more comfortable in this family lounge as opposed to one filled with business travellers. Over time, this kind of personalisation helps to build loyalty. Airports have never been afforded the visibility of arriving passengers, but if we think about the traveller journey, the airport represents a critical part of the trip. People spend hours inside the terminal. In addition, other elements of the journey – such as inside the airline cabin or the hotel – have already been highly personalised. Connecting the airport element of a passenger’s journey to the bigger picture has the potential to revolutionise non-aeronautical revenues for airports and greatly improve the passenger experience. It extends well beyond the travelling family example, too. Recently, our work with a Japanese airport revealed that Chinese passengers tend to arrive far earlier than average to a flight. By joining the data together an airport can ensure they have enough check-in facilities open early when dealing with Chinese travellers. They can also personalise their merchandising displays to prioritise luxury products at the right time. Airports could also leverage their dynamic signage with relevant Chinese language messaging. If we combine advances in data enabled personalisation, automation, the move of check-in processes off airport, and touchless biometric processing, it’s clear that the traveller experience is headed for big change. And with it, the airport is set to evolve, too. In my opinion, we have reached a tipping point in airport technology where products no longer only perform a discreet function (e.g. self-service check-in), but are in fact just a spoke connected to a broader hub of intelligence. This ‘hub’, or single source of data and insight, means airport touchpoints perform their core function like check-in, but they should also be a means to deliver meaningful personalised offers and experiences to the traveller based on the unique context of the passenger and the trip. The past few years have shown how complex travel can be in the context of a pandemic. Combined with changing passenger needs, route changes, cancellations, and other disruptive factors, it’s clear that a single platform approach is more important than ever before. Airline and airport collaboration is crucial to achieving this and shifting from a product to a value mindset. For example, a single platform would help remove friction with a single system for automated document checks, bag tracking could be improved with more regular updates, and predictive flight operations could help to better optimise landing and take-off slots. Overall, as an industry, it’s time we realised the value in collaborating. The pandemic forced us to break silos between airports and airlines, and looking forward, it’s essential that we continue to come together. With APAC beginning to enter recovery, airports also need to move away from a transactional approach to finding the right partners. Rather than airports looking to continue buying individual IT products designed to iteratively improve existing processes, it’s time for APAC to think big and find its strategic vision, decide what the airport of the future could look like, and plan a technological roadmap AW needed to get there.

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Raising the bar

MXD’s Chris LeTourneur outlines what we can expect from Jeddah Airport City and explains why he believes it represents the future of airport centric development.

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eddah Airport City at King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) is arguably taking airport-centric development to a new level, enhancing the western gateway to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for business, tourism, hospitality, sports, culture, worship, education, wellness, leisure and entertainment. Jeddah Airport City is situated directly adjacent to and connected with King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) Terminal 1, which was opened in 2019. The 810,000 square metres (8,700,000 square feet) Terminal 1 will allow KAIA to reach a capacity of 45 million passengers per year by 2030. Expansion plans for KAIA could push this passenger capacity to 114 million passengers per year after 2035. Pre-COVID 19 pandemic, KAIA exceeded 40 million passengers in 2018. KAIA is the country’s largest and busiest airport, driven by Hajj and Umrah Pilgrims making their journey to the holy cities of Makkah (Mecca) and Madinah (Medina) for worship and culture. Jeddah Airport City provides a refreshing and rewarding experience along this journey. At the heart of Jeddah Airport City is the Haramain High Speed Rail Station. The Haramain High Speed Rail was opened in 2019 and connects KAIA with Jeddah and Makkah, with a travel time of only 43 minutes between Jeddah and Makkah at speeds up to 300 km/h. High speed rail also connects KAIA with King Abdullah Economic City to the north, and Al Madinah Al Munarwarh, with a travel time of 75 minutes from KAIA to Madinah. It currently carries around 60 million passengers per year.

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Evolution of Jeddah Airport City

Jeddah Airport City is part of ‘Kingdom Vision 2030’, a transformative economic and social reform blueprint opening Saudi Arabia to the world. Jeddah Airport City plays a key role to enhance the traveller experience and establish KAIA as a global economic, transit, logistics, tourism and business hub, stimulating regional and national economic growth. KAIA was developed under the guidance of the Jeddah Airports Company (JEDCO), with approval of the Saudi Arabian General Authority of Aviation (GACA). Jeddah Airport City is part of phase one of JEDCO’s Mega Plan for KAIA, which also involves the planning and development of KAIA’s Cargo City, unlocking KAIA’s local and international business opportunities. Development of Jeddah Airport City at KAIA is being led by SARH Development Company (SARH). The concession was originally awarded by GACA (later JEDCO) to Fawwaz Alhokair & Partner. In March 2019, a partnership agreement between Fawwaz Alhokair & Partner (under the name Lynex Company) and SARH was approved by GACA to develop Jeddah Airport City. Jeddah Airport City has a 44-year land lease with JEDCO, supporting a wide range of land uses and development. With its broad experience in real estate investments and urban development, SARH is guiding the planning and development of Jeddah Airport City. SARH engaged AE Prime Engineering Consultants from the UAE and its partner, the Madrid Studio of global architectural firm


AIRPORT CENTRIC DEVELOPMENT Chapman Taylor, to generate the Mixed-Use Jeddah Airport City Concept Master Plan. JEDCO has approved this concept master plan. SARH plans to begin construction of Jeddah Airport City in 2023, with full project completion by 2028. The first phase of construction will be completed in 2026 and will include the parking podium and Lifestyle Centre, which will contain a Shopping District, City Terminal, Creative Offices, University for Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Co-Working Space, Co-Retail Space, Restaurants, Entertainment and a 20,000 seat Arena. Total investment in Jeddah Airport City is estimated to be $4.5 billion, which will be funded by SARH and its Austria-based partner, AVORIS, using local and international financial models. Sultan Bin Ali Al Harbi, chairman of SARH, says: “Jeddah Airport City will be Saudi Arabia’s first airport city development in line with His Majesty, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 for the development and transformation of Saudi Arabia, with the support of the Minister of Transport, Saleh bin Nasser Al Jasser. The project involves a 680,000 square metre plot of land directly adjacent to KAIA, the primary gateway to Jeddah and the holy city of Makkah. “Jeddah Airport City will introduce a variety of uses, building types and amenities to create a 24/7 destination at the juncture of KAIA and Jeddah’s evolving urban area, serving the needs of visitors and locals, while evolving Jeddah as a world class city. The broad range of uses and amenities will generate significant non-aeronautical revenues and financial returns, while improving the competitiveness and branding of KAIA and Jeddah.”

Connectivity within Jeddah Airport City

Components of Jeddah Airport City

Zone 2 – Business District

The Jeddah Airport City Concept Master Plan identifies 2,000,000 square metres of built-up area framed on each side of the Haramain High Speed Rail over four quadrants including: • Zone 1 – Exhibition Circuit • Zone 2 – Business District • Zone 3 – Fun Zone • Zone 4 – Calm Community

These quadrants will be connected by an activated grand parkway open space, botanical gardens, water features, pedestrian pathways, and a state-of-the-art mobility shuttle circuit, employing the latest in autonomous people moving technology. A parking podium employing digital touchless technology and mobile applications will serve the four quadrants, as well as KAIA and the Haramain High Speed Rail Station.

Central Gateway Gardens

A striking feature of Jeddah Airport City that will hold together its four quadrants is the Gateway Gardens. This passive and active open space will incorporate dramatic landscaping, botanical gardens, public art, illumination and digital installations, similar to the famed Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.

Zone 1 – Exhibition Complex

A 50,000 square metre Exhibition Centre anchors the Zone 1 – Exhibition Circuit quadrant, interwoven with the Central Gateway Gardens and directly adjacent to KAIA Terminal 1 and the Haramain High Speed Rail Station. Zone 1 also features a 5-Star Luxury Convention Hotel and 3-Star Hotel with a total of 650 rooms, complemented by a food & beverage dining cluster and retail uses.

The Business District includes 200,000 square metres of offices over two phases in six-floor buildings. This office space will facilitate local and global companies, in sectors ranging from aviation and international trade to finance and innovation and technology. Offices will be configured in a ‘Courtyard Campus’ format in five districts including: Financial District, Office District, Co-Working Area, Creative Offices East and Creative Offices West.

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A 4-Star Business Hotel and 3-Star Business Hotel will support the offices in the Business District and be situated in direct proximity to KAIA Terminal 1 and the Haramain High Speed Rail Station. Additionally, to accommodate the offices, airport employees, airlines and on-site University, a Serviced Apartments complex will offer fully furnished apartments equipped with full kitchens and have services and amenities including a fitness centre, laundry room and recreation room. A 3,500 square metre Community Mosque will serve the Business District, as well as the larger Jeddah Airport City, interwoven into dramatic landscaped open space. Ground floor retail and restaurants will activate the streetscape and provide a strong amenity for the Business District. As well, water features will be incorporated into the open spaces and streetscape to provide a cooling ‘canal-like’ waterfront view amenity for the offices, hotels, Serviced Apartments, ground floor restaurants and shops.

There will be two hotels in Zone 3, including a 4-Star Health Hotel (for hospital staff, patients and families using the Clinic/Hospital and wellness areas) and a 3-Star Themed Family Hotel.

Zone 3 – Fun Zone

Operating Partners

The Zone 3 – Fun Zone is anchored by a 68,700 square metre Arena housing 20,000 seats, becoming one of the largest indoor arenas in the Middle East. The Arena will host large-scale theatrical performances, international live performances, concerts, elite sporting spectacles and national events, generating year-round footfall and attracting performers and visitors from around the world. A Central Spine holding Zone 3 together and a Festival Plaza will be lined with destination lifestyle retail shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Indoor and outdoor food and beverage experiences are designed within a pedestrian boulevard, as well as in a multi-level dining terrace that works in conjunction with a multiplex cinema and family entertainment centre. The Central Gateway Botanical Gardens, including three large architectural domes, art installations and water features, will weave into Zone 3 on multiple levels providing view amenities. In 12,350 square metres, these domes will house the following three distinct themes: Sensorial Pavilion, Kids Pavilion, and Discovery Pavilion. In conjunction with Media and Financial Offices, Co-Working Spaces, Creative Offices and Co-Retail Spaces are situated throughout Zone 3, stimulating innovation and entrepreneurial enterprise. Arts, entertainment, culture and leisure functions are also situated throughout the Zone 3 – Fun Zone, including an Aquarium, Art Hall, Sports Leisure Box, Sports Branded Pavilion and activated LED Screens. Another anchor of Zone 3 is a 20,000 square metre Airport Healthcare Clinic/Hospital to provide specialist care for Oncology and Cardiology, as well as Family Health, Maternity, Paediatrics, Outpatient Clinic Surgeries, Cosmetic Surgery, research and teaching.

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Zone 4 – Calm Community Residential & Cultural District

Unlike most airport city developments, Jeddah Airport City features 53,000 square metres of Residential Duplexes and Apartments over six floors, integrated with lifestyle dining and shopping in a traditional Middle Eastern ‘Balad’ configuration. Like the other zones, a sustainable mix of water features and landscaped open space will hold the Calm Community together and provide views from within Zone 4. Zone 4 will also house the Arabian Museum of Arts & Culture, as well as Universities and innovation hub activities, bringing a level of sophistication and amenity to the nearby residential community.

Implementation of Jeddah Airport City has already attracted interest and commitments from various Saudi Arabian and global companies including KERB Parking Innovations (from Australia/Singapore), ASM Global (for the Arena and Convention Centre), KERTEN Hospitality and MXD Development Strategists (from Canada). Office spaces in phase one of the Zone 2 – Business District have attracted interest from major airlines and tourism companies desiring direct connectivity with KAIA.

Implications for Airport City Development

Recognising the unique location of Jeddah Airport City at the convergence of urban Jeddah with KAIA and the Haramain High Speed Rail Station, Jeddah Airport City evolves the airport city concept into exciting new directions that merge urban uses with the airport environment. In addition to traditional airport city functions, Jeddah Airport City introduces Arena, University, Healthcare Clinic/Hospital, Serviced Apartments, Residential, Religion, Arts, Culture, Entertainment, Botanical Gardens, Multi-Media, Autonomous Mobility Shuttles and Automated Frictionless Parking as key elements. With this wide range of uses, Jeddah Airport City is setting the new bar for airport city development.

About the author

Chris LeTourneur is president and CEO of Canada-based MXD Development Strategists.

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EVENTS: ACI EUROPE ANNUAL CONGRESS & GENERAL ASSEMBLY

On the comeback trail

We review some of the highlights of ACI EUROPE’s Annual Congress & General Assembly in Rome.

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autious optimism about the future might be the best way to sum up the mood of the over 300 delegates who gathered in Rome recently for ACI EUROPE’s 32nd Annual Congress & General Assembly. For although traffic figures are rapidly rising and everyone expects a strong summer with passenger numbers at some airports already above 2019 levels, doubts remain about growth in the final quarter of 2022 and beyond due to a host of economic and political issues and the acceptance that the world probably hasn’t seen the last of the COVID pandemic. Indeed, the ongoing challenges of the global pandemic, conflict in Ukraine, rising inflation rates and fuel prices, and sustainability – the latter effectively ensuring aviation’s license to grow – were covered extensively in the opening sessions of the event. They included arguably show-stealing presentations from Kyiv Boryspil Airport’s director general, Oleksiy Dubrevskyy and Odessa Airport’s chief commercial officer, Dr Vyacheslav Cheglatonyev, about the war in Ukraine and the devastating cost of the conflict in terms of the destruction of the country’s infrastructure, economy and loss of lives. As is tradition, the conference was officially opened by the host, which in 2022 meant that Aeroporti di Roma’s CEO, Marco Troncone, welcomed delegates to the 32nd Annual Congress, which had the theme of ‘Turning the Corner: Shaping our new Normal’. After his positive opening remarks about how rising passenger volumes showed that the desire to travel by air was still strong, he chose to focus on the bigger picture and issues such as aviation’s net zero emissions by 2050 challenge and funding new infrastructure. In his ‘State of the Industry Address’, ACI EUROPE’s director general, Olivier Jankovec, began by revealing that Europe’s airports had lost 3.1 billion passengers over the last two years – equivalent to twice the growth the continent’s airports had achieved over the previous 25 years. He pulled no punches in admitting that the continent’s airports were still reeling from the unprecedented collapse in revenue caused by the pandemic, resulting in pre-tax losses of more than €20 billion over the past two years. With little support from government, he said Europe’s airports had no other option but to pile on debt, resulting in total airport debt and liabilities having increased by a massive €60 billion compared to pre-pandemic.

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Although passengers are returning to the skies this summer, he noted that the traffic recovery for airports “remains revenue weak and cost intensive” with traffic volumes still below 2019 levels for most airports and demand tending to be concentrated on peak periods, causing significant stress on operations due to acute staff shortages. He warned that there is no escaping the fact that airports are facing an investment crunch. The reduction in capital expenditure from Europe’s airports over the past two years amounted to €7 billion – with yet more to come as inflationary pressures only make the situation worse. In fact, Jankovec revealed that inflation had already started to hit airports hard, impacting on investment decisions and driving operating expenses up – in particular for staffing and energy costs, which together amount on average to 45% of an airports’ operating costs. The situation is particularly serious as European airports are projected to need around €360 billion in capital expenditure to 2040, according to the latest ACI figures. “Over the past year, we have been warning of the risk of an airport investment crunch due to ballooning debt levels and much challenged revenue generation,” said Jankovec. “There is no question that the inflationary spiral we are now in is only making things worse. Airports will simply not be able to pay back their debt and invest at the same time. “This is about our ability to finance the decarbonisation of our facilities, but also support airlines’ efforts to do so – and thus, aviation as a whole. And yes, it is also about our ability to address current operational disruptions caused by staff shortages now and in the medium-term.” With European airports seeing their economics being turned upside down by structural revenue pressures and cost increases, Jankovec outlined what he called a necessary transition and transformation of airports towards a new value creation model based on three pillars – sustainability, innovation and diversification. Indeed, he stated that airports are now working in these strategic directions, charting the way forward as ‘glocal’ businesses delivering value both to their stakeholders, and to society as a whole. Next up was ACI Europe president and managing director of Spanish airport operator, Aena, Javier Marín, who called upon EU Institutions, European governments and regulators to work with industry so that


EVENTS: ACI EUROPE ANNUAL CONGRESS & GENERAL ASSEMBLY

aviation policy enables a strong and sustainable reset for the entire sectoral ecosystem. Marín tackled issues as diverse as slot regulation, regional air connectivity, airport charges, decarbonisation and the handling of resurgent viral variants. He opened by tackling staff shortages and the severe disruptions suffered by air travellers in several European markets. The root cause, he said, is the combination of a stronger than expected surge in demand alongside very tight labour markets – affecting not just airports but all actors in aviation including airlines, ground handlers, police and border control. Asked if the industry could have been better prepared, he replied: “I honestly do not think so. We got little advance notice of the lifting of travel restrictions by governments, so had very little time to scale up our facilities and resources.” And as the aviation industry was no longer as attractive as it was pre-pandemic, he noted that recruiting new staff isn’t easy and will take time. “When you look at ground handling in particular, we have to find a better balance between competitiveness and the social sustainability of the employment on offer,” said Marín. The eagerly awaited ‘Ukrainian airports: reflections and realities’ session followed, during which both Dubrevskyy and Cheglatonyev shared videos of missile attacks on Kyiv Boryspil Airport and residential areas across Ukraine.

Both explained how everything changed for their airports and all of Ukraine at 4am on February 24, 2022, when effectively decades of peace, prosperity and traffic growth for the country’s airports was brought to a shuddering halt by the war with Russia. “Most Ukrainian airports have been severely damaged with the losses to date amounting to $6.8 billion,” said Dubrevskyy. The dramatic and moving session was followed by the usual highlight of the conference, the ‘Airport leaders symposium’, which this year comprised Istanbul Grand Airport CEO, Kadri Samsunlu; Hermes Airports CEO, Eleni Kaloyirou; Athens International Airport CEO, Yiannis Paraschis; Hamburg Airport CEO, Michael Eggenschwiler; and Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur’s chairman of the management board, Franck Goldnadel. Hermes Airports’ Kaloyirou said she was expecting a good summer and end to the year, meaning that passengers numbers through Cyrpus’ Paphos and Larnaca airports should be back to 70% to 80% of their pre-COVID levels by the end of the year. Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur’s Goldnadel, however, said it was difficult to predict the final quarter of 2022 and beyond as some airlines said their future forecast was good, while others didn’t know. He commented: “In the circumstances, we have to remain flexible and reactive so that we can adapt to different scenarios.” IGA’s Samsunlu noted that although traffic at Istanbul Airport was now back to pre-COVID levels, he was worried that rising fuel

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prices and inflation might damage consumer confidence and potentially slow down traffic growth next year. Talking about what he has learned as a leader over the last two years, Samsunlu said: “What the pandemic has taught me as a leader is you have to watch out for the mental, physical and professional wellbeing of your employees as every single one of them is important to you. “A second take-away for me is that we need to make our businesses as resilient as possible so that they can cope with anything. And lastly, we need to improve co-operation with our airlines, which in my case is Turkish Airlines.” In answer to the top three challenges faced by their airports over the next few years, Hamburg’s Eggenschwiler said: “To learn to live with the unknown and today’s new normal where we don’t really know what is going to happen next year. Finding the right balance between having the adequate number of staff in your organisation mixed with the appropriate technology. “And the third is to return to profitability, which will allow us to self-finance ourselves and then get on with other projects such as becoming carbon neutral and all the infrastructure that will need to be developed and maintained.” Athens International Airport’s Paraschis said: “To continue to attract and develop human capital. Complete out net zero carbon emission projects. And manage the expansions and CAPEX programmes on time and on budget.” While Istanbul’s Samsunlu said: “Fix my financials. Persuade Turkish Airlines to bring more airlines to Istanbul that is not going to hurt their business model. And hire top quality people, which isn’t easy in my country because of the competition.” A very busy afternoon on Day 1 included a ‘special address’ from Professor Enrico Giovanni, Italy’s Minister for Infrastructure & Sustainable Mobility; an interview with Henrik Hololei, director general of DG MOVE for the European Commission; and ACI EUROPE’s annual General Assembly. In between the former and the latter there were also panel discissions on ‘The new reality of airport and airline relationships – from infrastructure charges and airport slots to network development and operational efficiency’; ‘Decarbonisation: what is achievable, and how long will it take?’ and ‘The air rail debate: from confrontation to co-operation’.

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The day ended with a Gala Dinner at the spectacular Villa Piccolomini overlooking Rome, where ACI EUROPE recognised the winners of its Best Airport Awards. The second day of the conference had a lot to live up to, and it got off to the liveliest of starts with EUROCONTROL’s director general, Eamonn Brennan, arguing that airports should look at themselves and take more responsibility for the current delays at Europe’s airports rather than blaming everyone else for the current problems. He said: “In reality, it’s the system [to blame], in which airports have a pivotal role to play, and you haven’t done it very well this year. In fact, I think you’ve lost the PR battle, and if you lose the passenger, you’re in big trouble.” Next up was a debate about the current investment landscape in Europe and whether airports are still attractive to potential investors, moderated by ICF’s managing director for aviation, travel and tourism, Kata Cserep. In the hot-seat, and basically agreeing that airports still remain much sought after assets, were Luke Bugeja, CEO of Ferrovial Airports; Giovanni Cavallaro, ADR’s vice president of strategic planning and regulatory; Elisabetta de Bernardi, Atlantia’s investment director for Europe; and Joanna Fic, Moody’s senior vice-president for infrastructure and finance. Bugeja said: “Things have clearly changed because of COVID, but as an asset class, are airports still interesting and are investors still there? Absolutely! Strategic and insitutional investors still have confidence in the market and can see through the current downturn.” While Atlantia’s de Bernardi reminded the audience that her company was a long-term investor and, although she accepted that today’s market was difficult, noted that it didn’t stop Atlantiaowned ADR recently opening the impressive new Boarding Area A linked to Terminal 1 at Rome Fiumicino. The conference closed with a debate about innovation and how technology is shaping our new normal and the Grand Finale where London City Airport CEO, Robert Sinclair, and Frontier Economics’ board director and head of aviation practice, Dan Ellott, shared some final thoughts with moderator and managing director of Aviation Advocacy, Andrew Charlton.

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CUSTOMER EXCELLENCE

The pursuit of excellence Kyung Wook Kim, president and CEO of long-time ASQ champion, Incheon International Airport, talks to Joe Bates about his gateway’s customer service focus and ambitions. Can you tell us a little more about your customer service philosophy and the main customer service goals you strive to achieve?

With travel habits changing, how important is it for Incheon to embrace new touchless technologies to help ensure high customer satisfaction levels?

Why do you take the customer experience so seriously?

Have you managed to resume your popular live performances yet such as the Walk of the Joseon Royal Family and your regular musical acts?

Perhaps the best way to summarise our customer philosophy is to say that we believe in constantly and consistently making improvements so that we effectively pioneer change and walk to the next level of customer service instead of playing catch up. I believe that this relentless effort to do things better since the day the airport opened means that we have now matured in terms of our customer service offerings and performance, and as a result, our service basics by standard are known and recognised by the airport industry. Now we would like our guests to think of the airport as a stress and hassle-free destination, and in this respect, new technology will definitely play a part. I am specifically thinking of document less, baggage-less, hands-free travel. Ultimately, we want our guests to be able to just simply enjoy being here. That is the experience we wish to deliver.

Because customer feedback touches on many different areas and sheds light on what we have to do to do even better. Remember, good customer service isn’t just about the helpfulness of frontline staff. It’s also about everything from the facility itself, Wi-Fi speeds and retail and dining offerings to the driving habits of airport shuttle buses. We typically do well when it comes to operations, so knowing about things we can improve upon gives us the tools to raise the customer experience bar even higher. The fact that we are striving to become a destination in our own right through projects such as the planned 380,000 square metre Landmark Complex commercial area that will connect the airport with our larger Airport City – with tourist and business attractions – only serves to strengthen our customer service focus.

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New technology will inevitably play a key role in the future development and transformation of air travel at Incheon and across the world. Imagine this future scenario. You are planning a holiday on a beach far away and your luggage will be picked up from your doorstep. You go the airport, and the usual processes are done with facial recognition technology ensuring that your hands are free from bags and travel documents until you board. This touchless, hassle-free experience ensures that you feel lighter to relax and enjoy the unique dining or taking in the shade of red of the royal robe of the Walk of the Royal Family procession at Incheon International Airport. This is the technology implementation we are working on now, and it is closely linked to our plan to make our airport a destination in its own right.

We actually ran the daily Walk of the Royal Family procession throughout the pandemic as it is an important programme for the airport as it showcases a Korean Sense of Place. The carefully reconstructed royal walk is a joint initiative run with the Korea Culture Heritage Foundation, the public institution that that works to preserve our country’s cultural heritage. The usual music performances will be rolled back step-by-step with the passenger recovery. I’d like to note that the pandemic did little to stifle our enthusiasm to expand our art and culture offerings. Indeed, we opened the Museum of Korean Culture and we are currently hosting an exhibition called ‘Transformations – Experiments in Hangeul Design’ in Terminal 1. The exhibition shows how the Korean letters (Hangul) can be applied to fashion and crafts.


CUSTOMER EXCELLENCE

We are also looking into opportunities to accommodate museum storage and a satellite site for a globally renowned museum.

Can you give us some examples of customer service excellence at Incheon that might have helped you do so well in the ASQ Survey last year?

We believe that with the basic facilities and processes for passenger convenience in place, the thing that customers respond to most is caring service providers. In particular, when a passenger is lost, in a hurry, or in an uncomfortable state, the experience is greatly improved when a member of staff provides service that goes beyond expectation. Here at Incheon, such behaviour is consistently displayed. Two recent examples that spring to mind include the member of the Lost & Found team that went all the way to the boarding gate to reunite a passenger with his lost mobile phone, and the worker who offered a helping hand, and directions, to an expectant mother overloaded with luggage and heading to the wrong train! We believe that these real examples from 2021, and instigated by the employees’ own initiative, demonstrate how staff have bought in to our prolonged efforts to create a culture of hospitality.

So, it is safe to say that Incheon hasn’t forgotten about the key role people play in delivering customer service excellence?

People are our most valuable asset. In our case, we could not run the airport without co-working with many different entities and their staff. We, of course, require them to meet our high service standards and encourage a sense of belonging. I also think that it is important to recognise, and in some cases reward, the effort of those that perhaps excel at what they do or go out of their way to help others. One such programme that does this is our ‘King of Hospitality’ initiative, which l have run since the airport’s 2001 opening. Under this programme, the friendliest staff from all airport

sectors are selected by directors with experience in the delivery of good in customer service and awarded a certificate by the CEO of the company. To instil a sense of pride, their photos and interviews videos are displayed prominently in the staff passageways of all terminals.

Can you tell us why you consider ACI’s ASQ and Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programmes so highly?

ASQ is a comprehensive customer satisfaction survey that breaks down the components of satisfaction very well and allows for objective comparisons with similar-sized airports. We have participated in ACI’s service evaluation programmes since 2006, was fortunate enough to be named the world’s best airport for 12 years straight, and became one of the first airports to be inducted into the ASQ Hall of Fame. I, and everyone at Incheon International Airport Corporation, are very proud of our achievements. We are currently striving to achieve the next level of Airport Customer Experience Accreditation (Level 5, the highest level). We are doing this because we have also found it to be a good source for methodically assessing what we are doing, and in some cases, learning about areas in need of more attention. It is important that nothing is left out when it comes to enhancing the airport experience for passengers.

Good customer service is, of course, open to interpretation. What does it mean to you?

I think it is about building an Incheon International Airport that brings a smile to the face of every guest – from frequent flyers to travellers arriving here for the first time after the longest of flights. In my opinion, it is about the combination of everything – the smooth surfaces, friendly smiles, and the unexpected music that catches your ear – as together they all add up to an experience that will linger long in the memory and make you want to visit again.

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VERTIPORTS

Vertiport update Flying cabs are a step closer to reality following the successful trial of the world’s first fully operational demonstration hub for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles such as air taxis and autonomous cargo drones.

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ir-One, as it was named by creator, Urban-Air Port, was located in the heart of Coventry in the UK and, with the backing of the British government and US eVTOL manufacturer, Supernal, was operational for a month. Crime-fighting police drones and heavy cargo delivery drones the size of a single bed were among the vehicles to fly from the site during the trial, which Urban-Air boldly claims has launched the dawn of a new age of zero-emission, low-congestion urban transport. It has even gone on record as stating that the trial has provided the blueprint for more than 200 planned vertiports across the globe over the next five years to meet the anticipated demand for the new form of transport. According to Urban-Air Port, the advanced air mobility (AAM) market is set to take off, with forecasted growth of 9% annually to reach $1 trillion within the next two decades. Urban-Air Port’s executive chairman, Ricky Sandhu, says that the success of the trial shows that the lack of ground infrastructure for eVTOLs would no longer prove to be the biggest single barrier to their growth and development. Indeed, Sandu believes that purpose-built ground infrastructure like Air-One – equipped with their own revenue generating retail and F&B facilities – can unleash the potential of AAM to decarbonise transport and cut air pollution and congestion, whilst providing seamless passenger journeys and deliveries. He said: “Air-One was the starting gun for a new age of transport, an age of zero-emission, congestion-free travel between and within cities that will make people healthier, happier and more connected than ever before. “From design, through to fabrication and now into operation, Urban-Air Port has delivered Air-One in just 15 months, setting the

standard for deployment globally and opening up a world of possibilities for rapid response air mobility.” Munich Airport had a vested interest in the success of the UK trial as the gateway’s international business subsidiary, Munich Airport International (MAI,) had previously agreed to work in close co-operation with Urban-Air Port on the launch of Air-One. MAI, for example, believes that Air-One could become a blueprint for future vertiport deployments in multiple environments and settings. Dr Ralf Gaffal, CEO of MAI, said: “A few years ago, advanced air mobility was just a vision. Today, with Urban-Air Port’s efforts, we are taking a giant step towards making it a reality with significant implications for the transport and logistics sector worldwide. “As an innovative mobility concept, it also has the potential to directly connect rural regions and remote places with airports and, last but not least, to decongest public transport in megacities. “We at Munich Airport International see enormous potential in this new, immensely versatile mode of transportation. Partnering with Urban-Air Port has allowed us to join forces in designing, implementing and operating scalable and sustainable vertiports around the world.” Elsewhere in Europe, Aeroporti di Roma’s chief aviation officer, Ivan Bassato, says that the airport operator remains very interested in the eVTOL concept, and that it has considered using the rooftop of a multi-storey car park at Rome Fiumicino as one possible location for its very own vertiport. Bassato believes that eVTOL vehicles could initially provide a “premium service” for customers travelling between Fiumicino and the surounding region. Key ADR shareholder, Atlantia, has shares in AW urban air mobility company, Volocopter.

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WBP NEWS

Open for business The latest news from ACI’s World Business Partners.

TSA approves use of Rohde & Schwarz scanner Rohde & Schwarz has announced that its R&S QPS201 security scanner has been placed on the Transportation Security Administration’s Qualified Products List (QPL), which approves it for use in US airports and at other TSA security screening facilities. “We are thrilled that the R&S QPS201 security scanner has achieved QPL status,” said Frank Dunn, CEO of Rohde & Schwarz USA. “We look forward to continuing to work with the TSA, airports and air carriers to bring R&S QPS201 to US airport security screening checkpoints.” The quick personnel security (QPS) scanner features enhanced Advanced Imaging Technology (eAIT) and uses safe, millimetre wave

radio frequency technology to rapidly and accurately screen passengers for concealed threats. According to R&S, the system’s open design and hands-down scan pose makes security easy and accessible for travellers. With hundreds of systems in use at some of the world’s busiest airports since 2015, R&S QPS201 has also been approved for use by the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC). R&S QPS201 is currently at three US airports – Denver International Airport (DEN), LaGuardia International Airport (LGA), and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS).

Arconas unveils new ecosystem seating

Global airport seating company, Arconas, has launched Avro, which it describes as “a complete, high-performance seating ecosystem designed by London-based design studio Pearson Lloyd to meet the evolving needs of the modern traveller”. According to Arconas, Avro offers terminal operators a single, endlessly flexible seating system for all types of travellers. It notes that with its “combination of elegant design, vivid colours, visionary engineering, and integrated power, Avro elevates any interior space and brings the VIP lounge experience to any waiting area with one single, easy-to-install system. “An ingenious universal beam structure allows all seat types to be easily and intuitively installed, removed, or replaced –

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making Avro simple to maintain, clean and reconfigure as needs change.” Avro incorporates low-voltage USB-A & USB-C outlets in the armrests so passengers can safely and conveniently charge their devices or catch up on work as they move through the airport. “Avro is the most versatile airport furniture ecosystem on the market today,” says Lynn Gordon, Arconas’ vice president of business development. “Our patented universal connector is engineered to accommodate Avro’s entire extended family of seating, including tandem, hospitality lounge, and upholstered recliners, as well as benches, tables, and accessories.”


WBP NEWS

Programmatic DOOH campaigns take off at Singapore Changi

WBP profiles Air4casts Limited

Membership Region: Europe Type of Business: Consulting & Management W: www.air4casts.com Air4casts was established in 1990 by a small group of marketing, consulting and systems professionals with business backgrounds in beverages, cosmetics, fashion, oil and management consultancy. Today Air4casts has established a reputation as an acknowledged leader in air passenger forecasting, research and consulting. Its client base is broad and ranges from airports and airlines to financial institutions.

Dunham Group, LLC

JCDecaux Singapore has launched “programmatic trading” for its 50 digital screens at Singapore Changi Airport, which it says will add 20 million impressions a month to its nationwide portfolio. JCDecaux explains that the milestone offering will connect advertisers and media buyers to the premium advertising inventory at the gateway via the leading global Digital Out of Home (DOOH) supply side platform, VIOOH, and its connections to automated programmatic advertising platforms where marketers can purchase and manage ad inventories from multiple ad sources. As a result, advertisers will be able to leverage on JCDecaux’s Airport Audience Measurement (AAM), the first international industry standard that offers standardised global metrics of airport audiences, to optimise their campaign budget for maximum impact through data-led buying decisions. Evlyn Yang, managing director of JCDecaux Singapore, said: “Programmatic buying will be a key growth driver; we believe it will elevate the media buying and passenger engagement experiences at Changi Airport with more precise targeting and relevant messaging.”

Conceptual design team for CMH’s new terminal

Airbiz been appointed to the conceptual design team for the planned new terminal at Ohio’s John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH) in the United States. It will work alongside a consultancy team led by Gensler, in partnership with Columbusbased design firm Moody Nolan, on the project. The airport’s existing terminal was opened in 1958 and the initial commission by Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA) will explore the conceptual design of the new CMH terminal, with future phases of the project to be determined through this design analysis phase. According to the Ohio gateway, the existing terminal is reaching the end of its useful life and it now has the opportunity to plan for a new terminal that will serve Central Ohio for years to come. Indeed, CRAA notes that “multiple assets and systems require replacement by 2032” to ensure that the airport can keep up with growth, with forecasts predicting that it will surpass its 10mppa capacity by 2025. “We were delighted to receive many strong proposals from the world’s top design firms,” said Joseph Nardone, CRAA’s president and CEO. “Gensler with Moody Nolan not only brings the most experience and skill, but the highest level of participation with local and diverse business partners. “Together with our talented CRAA team we are well-positioned to execute this initial phase of planning.”

Membership Region: North America Type of Business: Consulting & Management W: www.dunham-group.com Dunham Group, LLC is an alliance of experienced airport professionals that specialises in business development strategies, operational analyses and security programmes for the airport industry. Its broad range of advisory services for airports and their customers include operational and organisational evaluations, security assessments and programme development as well as comprehensive marketing and public relations plans. In addition it offers business development services to aviation industry suppliers of technology and services.

HID Global

Membership Region: North America Type of business: IT and Communications W: www.hidglobal.com/piam Quantum Secure’s SAFE for Airports is a modular software suite, which cost effectively enables airports to streamline their credential and access management processes from enrolment of biometric data, STA/CHRC processing, BASIC integration and TSA Watchlist, to automation of physical access management. SAFE integrates with Physical and IT systems to increase efficiencies and comply with TSA regulations.

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HUMAN RESOURCES

PEOPLE

matters Beam me up, Scotty!

Dr Richard Plenty and Terri Morrisey reflect on how the human touch is an area to focus on while airport automation gathers pace.

W

ouldn’t it be great if we could just utter the magic words, ‘Beam me up, Scotty’, and arrive instantly wherever we wanted to go? In a sense, that’s something we have become accustomed to on ZOOM – but outside the domain of virtual reality, we must still traverse the real physical world to get from A to B. Sometimes this can be relatively straightforward. Arriving recently midafternoon and ‘on time’ back at London Heathrow from Bogota, Colombia, on our first long-haul flight for years, we exited Terminal 2 only 45 minutes after touching down, through the immigration formalities and complete with all our baggage. But as we all know, it doesn’t always go as smoothly as that. In a post pandemic world, long distance travel can be quite an ordeal. Apart from making sure you have the right forms and sometimes having to wear a mask, the logistics don’t always work. In airports across the world, flights have been cancelled, passengers stranded, and baggage delayed as a consequence of insufficient numbers of trained people. During the pandemic many airports and airlines reduced staffing levels to cut costs. Now, with the rush of pent-up demand, they have been caught out. They are finding that they can’t recruit and train people fast enough. Competition for labour is intense. The aviation industry is not as attractive as it was. Regulations on safety mean that it takes time to train people up to an acceptable level. There are simply not enough people to do the work needed. Digitisation and automation, once seen solely as the enemy by workers concerned about job security, are increasingly seen as a way of supporting those who remain,

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reducing workloads and making it possible to keep operating. Different airports are at different stages of development, but the advances are obvious to the passenger: automated check-in, faster and more efficient security, streamlined and digitised boarding and immigration. The technology is getting better, the jobs they are replacing are often tedious and boring, and the economic case is compelling. This focus of digitisation will gather pace and broaden. Increasingly, professional and management jobs will be impacted. Automation will turn to supporting and replacing more complex activities and tasks, using a combination of sophisticated algorithms, integrated databases, ‘big data’ and machine learning to inform practice and guide decision-making. There will be many challenging questions to answer. For example, the balance to be struck between human judgement and technology, but further automation looks inevitable. What airports won’t be able to automate so easily is the consideration for passengers, the customer service, the understanding of individual needs that makes travel tolerable. Someone to sort out your seat reservation, help you if you get lost, direct you when you arrive. After all, aviation is an industry that deals with the most diverse population of any sector – people of all ages, cultures, types, backgrounds and nationalities – travelling together across the world, often fatigued, stressed and wary. It takes people, not machines, to deal with that. Of course, airports will have no alternative but to bring in automation to survive. They will need to come to terms with and embrace the opportunities that technology brings. But until we can be beamed to distant locations instantly as in Star Trek, it is important that airports keep a focus on the human touch. The passenger experience demands it.

Manchester Airport in the UK has appointed Chris Woodroofe as its new managing director, replacing Karen Smart, who decided to step down earlier this year to “pursue fresh career opportunities”. She announced her decision to go in early April as many UK airports struggled to cope with rising demand due to staff shortages. Ferrovial Airports has named David Kenny as its new head of strategy and corporate development. He joins from Sydney-based AMP Capital Investors where he served as managing director and head of transportation infrastructure. Jaimini Erskine is Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s new vice president for marketing and concessions responsible for terminal concessions, corporate marketing and digital strategy. Tim O’Krongley has joined San Antonio Airport System (SAAS) as its deputy aviation director of planning, design, construction and the New Terminal Program. SAAS has also promoted chief finance and administration officer, Michael Garnier, to its executive team. Airport Authority Hong Kong has two new members of the Board, Philip Chen Nan-Lok and Laurence Li Lu-jen SC, their respective three year terms beginning on June 1, 2022. Emmanuel Menanteau, CEO of Cambodia Airports, has succeeded Changi Airport Group’s CEO, Seow Hiang Lee, as president of ACI Asia-Pacific’s Regional Board. He officially assumed the role on June 1, 2022, and will hold the position until the end of 2024.

About the authors

Terri Morrissey and Dr Richard Plenty are directors of This Is…, authors of the book, Uncertainty Rules? Making Uncertainty work for you, and run the ACI World Airport Human Resources Programme. Contact them at info@thisis.eu

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