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Smart Airports 2017: The future of airport design

As day two of Smart Airports 2017 in Munich drew to a close, three airport leaders put forward their views on how airports must meet the constant pressure on capacity and the subsequent need to build world-class facilities to meet this growing demand.

Digital transformation
Muhammad Awaluddin, CEO of PT Angkasa Pura II (APII) – the state-owned airport services company operating in western parts of Indonesia stated that Indonesia’s economy is constantly growing as is air traffic in the country, and airports must work hard to meet this growing demand.

The largest archipelago in the world with more than 17,000 islands and a total population of around 260 million, Awaluddin stated that Indonensia’s “economy is constantly growing with US$3,600 GDP per capita”.

With 300 airports already operating across the country, Awaluddin also enthused that “the digital transformation of airports is key to the future success of Indonesia’s aviation industry”.

Referencing Soekarno-Hatta Airport, which serves the Greater Jakarta area and is flown to by a number of carriers, including regional and low-fare airlines, he said that Angkasa Pura II has been working hard over the last year to transform the end-to-end passenger experience and journey through digital transformation.

“With mobile usage widespread and growing, one of APII’s biggest initiatives has been to develop Indonesia Airports apps to improve passenger experiences” said Awaluddin, explaining that mobile apps have become part of APII’s business strategy to enhance and amplify the customer digital experience.

The arrival of low-fare carriers
Budapest Airport’s chief technical officer, Stephan Schattney, meanwhile, explained that one of the biggest challenges airports face is keeping pace with the changing requirements of airlines.

Referencing the demise of Malev airlines six years ago and the subsequent arrival of Ryanair 72 hours later, he said the Irish low-fare carrier completely changed the way his airport operated.

At the time the airport had developed a new midfield terminal from which Malev, the national carrier operated out of serving regional airports. “But literally overnight I was confronted with an entirely new set of requirements. Ryanair brought increased passenger traffic and different passenger expectations” he said, explaining how passengers were kept in ‘holding pens’ on the tarmac alongside the aircraft while waiting to board.

“Passengers were standing on the tarmac either in the heat of the midday sun, or in the extremes of winter, so we had to erect temporary tents to house passengers,” he said. Both a security and safety issue this temporary solution led to a new permanent facility being constructed at the airport with covered walkways from the terminal to the aircraft to avoid passengers standing out on the tarmac.

Schattney also cited the arrival of wide-body aircraft as changing the focus for the airport saying that “airports need to incorporate design flexibility to accommodate changing airline needs”.

Competitive edge
In Romania, David Ciceo, MD Cluj Airport, said that with 17 airports across the country Cluj “faces stiff competition from surrounding regional airports.”

Although Ciceo is expecting 3 million passengers to travel the airport in 2017, he revealed the aim is to build the airport’s infrastructure to cater for 7 million passengers. He also revealed that in order to build passenger and airline traffic, the airport has implemented a big marketing drive to build traffic, attract new airlines and develop its route network.

Head image: Stephan Schattney, chief technical officer, Budapest Airport, talking at Smart Airports 2017 in Munich.

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