Paul Griffiths, CEO Dubai Airports – Keynote interview

Paul Griffiths, CEO Dubai Airports – Keynote interview

Paul Griffiths, CEO Dubai Airports – Keynote interview

 

Last month at World Aviation Festival the CEO Dubai Airports joined Ben Thompson for an interview. In just 15-minutes, Paul Griffiths answered questions on a wide range of topics in depth. Thought-provoking, relevant, and perceptive this interview with the Dubai Airports CEO is packed with insight.

Firstly, the pair discuss Dubai’s rapid pandemic recovery and the factor which Paul attributes to their success. The positive changes that emerged from the adversities of COVID-19 are also identified, looking especially at the pandemic as a catalyst for the adoption of biometric technology. This interview covers significant ground discussing a range of themes from the importance of aviation to the challenges of being a hub.

 

 

Sean Donohue, CEO DFW Airport Board’s interview is mentioned in this interview, watch this here.

 

Keynote CEO panel: As airports rescale following the pandemic, how can they rebuild to a smarter future whilst prioritising innovation and sustainability?

Keynote CEO panel: As airports rescale following the pandemic, how can they rebuild to a smarter future whilst prioritising innovation and sustainability?

Keynote CEO panel: As airports rescale following the pandemic, how can they rebuild to a smarter future whilst prioritising innovation and sustainability?

 

This 45-minute panel was hosted at the World Aviation Festival in October. Moderated by BBC Journalist Ben Thompson, the discussion involved these prominent leaders from the airport industry:

  • Sean Donohue, CEO DFW Airport Board
  • Julia Simpson, President and CEO WTTC
  • Julie Shainock, Global Leader Travel and Transportation Industry, Microsoft
  • Paul Griffiths, CEO Dubai Airports
  • Gert-Jan de Graaff, CEO Brisbane Airport

Ben expertly moderated with the session covering the current state of the industry as well as expectations for the near and distant future.

One of the topics discussed in depth was the issue of passenger confidence and how to increase predictability to enhance passenger experience. Here, the panel had differing opinions on the severity of the problem however they offered the same broad solution. Developing from this topic the panel explored data and how real time data is currently shared with passengers as well as plans for the next few years.

Inevitably, technology was woven into the entirety of the discourse. When explicitly addressing technology, the conversation explored how to “do more with less” to prevent spending on technology from draining companies. The more distant future was also explored alongside a moment of introspection, looking at how tech has changed lives in unexpected ways.

The final predominant theme was sustainability. Here the panel explained how they interpret sustainability and how to grow sustainably. There was discussion on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and Hydrogen.

In the 45-minutes, the panellists also touched upon advice for start-ups to help get noticed, eVTOL aircrafts, security technology, digital twins, the metaverse, smart buildings, and more.

 

 

Paris airports adopt 37 second bag drop technology from an Amadeus company

Paris airports adopt 37 second bag drop technology from an Amadeus company

Paris airports adopt 37 second bag drop technology from an Amadeus company

 

On 17 November, it was announced that over 100 state-of-the-art self-service bag drop units were to be delivered to Paris Aéroport at Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly airports.

 

What is the technology?

The new Auto Bag Drop (ABD) machines from Amadeus company, ICM Airport Technics allow passengers to opt for time saving self-service bag drop at the airports.

 

How does this benefit the airports?

A range of self-service bag drop technology is being integrated into airports internationally. In the face of staff shortages and queues developing at bottlenecks in the airports, self-service is one way technology can improve efficiency in airports. On average, self-service bag drop with these machines takes 37 seconds. The technology can help optimise staff distribution across the airport, reduce queues, and allow for a more seamless journey.

Yannick Beunardeau, SVP Airport & Airline Operations, EMEA, Amadeus said:

“Airports and airlines have experienced significant operational challenges as they adapt to rapidly rising passenger numbers. At the airport, automation offers a proven route to reduce queues by allowing passengers to take control of their own experience. That’s why Groupe ADP is placing self-service at the heart of its passenger service strategy.”

360 ABD machines are already in operation across Paris Aéroport at Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly airports. This addition of over 100 more hints at the success of the technology.

Edward Arkwright, Deputy CEO Groupe ADP said:

“We are happy to work with Amadeus to increase the number of passengers checking-in their own bags at Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly airports. While they will always have the choice between this automated service or a traditional experience at the airline’s check-in counter, we are seeing an increasing number of passengers choosing to check-in their own luggage. Our goal is to help them save time.”

 

ICM ABD technology

ICM Airport Technics have a range of solutions for automating the bag drop process. The Series 1 Type 1 self-service bag drop is an entry level technology and integrates with the front of the existing check-in desk. This machine can switch from self-service to agent operated as required.

More advanced ABD technology is also produced by ICM Airport Technics. The Series 7 is a fully automatic bag drop solution incorporating high security and safety features including biometrics and ergonomics. This model is designed to be complete replacement of traditional check-in counters.

For more on self-service bag drop technology read ‘Efficient Technology at Terminal 4 Changi Airport.’

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

2022 FIFA World Cup has airports preparing for 1.7 million visitors

2022 FIFA World Cup has airports preparing for 1.7 million visitors

2022 FIFA World Cup has airports preparing for 1.7 million visitors

 

The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off on Sunday, and all eyes are on Qatar. With a population of 3 million and a total geographic area of approximately 11,586 km², the host nation is the smallest country in this year’s World Cup. Across the course of the tournament, Qatar is expected to receive upwards of 1.7 million visitors with the majority of fans arriving by air. How are the host and neighbouring countries planning to accommodate this?

 

Qatar

Hamad International Airport (HIA) and Doha International Airport have been intensely preparing for the World Cup. The airports are anticipating approximately 200,000 people a day and the air traffic in both airports has reached an estimated 90 take-offs and landing per hour.

HIA underwent a series of expansion projects to increase the facility’s overall capacity from 29 million to 58 million passengers per annum Badr Al-Meer, airport chief operating officer, confirmed to Qatar News Agency (QNA). The projects included the “provision of 34 aircraft parking spaces on an area of 250,000 square meters.”

The airport also has a new transfer hall on concourse C, which is expected to reduce waiting times at through efficient security and customer service.

To alleviate some of the pressure on HIA, Doha International Airport has been reopened to passenger airlines. It is estimated that Doha International will receive approximately 12 per-cent of all flights to/from Qatar during the World Cup. Before September 2022, the airport had been closed to passenger airlines for eight years.

Flag carrier, Qatar Airways will also be providing Passenger Overflow spaces outside the airports for free use. The area will offer storage space for luggage as well as football festivities and live entertainment for fans.

Despite the extensive preparation, Qatar alone does not have the capacity to accommodate expected number of fans. Instead, people have been encouraged to stay in neighbouring states with daily shuttle services available. Consequently, Doha is expecting 20,000 daily visitors from the gulf to Doha. One key state offering this service is Dubai.

 

Dubai

120 shuttle flights will fly in and out of Dubai World Central (DWC) airport daily during the course of the tournament. This is set to increase DWC’s passenger traffic three-fold. According to Gulf News, to accommodate these forecast passengers, the airport has:

  • A dedicated front-line team to facilitate efficient processing at every service touchpoint, ensuring a consistently smooth experience and on-time departures.
  • More than 60 check-in counters.
  • 21 boarding gates.
  • 60 passport control counters (departures and arrivals).
  • 10 smart gates.
  • 4 baggage belts on arrivals.

Discussing the pressure that the World Cup will bring, Paul Griffiths, CEO Dubai Airports said:

“A spike in demand of this magnitude would pose a challenge for any airport, but we have had some recent practice. In May-June this year, we orchestrated the almost flawless temporary relocation of more than 1,000 flights a week from Dubai International (DXB) to DWC for the 45-day long DXB northern runway rehabilitation project, while managing an exceptionally strong recovery throughout.”

The Qatar hosted 2022 FIFA World Cup will run 20 November to 18 December. For more content relating to the World Cup read  ‘How Qatar Airways are maximising their ancillary revenue from the World Cup.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Sean Donohue, CEO DFW Airport Board – Keynote interview

Sean Donohue, CEO DFW Airport Board – Keynote interview

Sean Donohue, CEO DFW Airport Board – Keynote interview

 

The Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Airport Board CEO joined Ben Thompson for a keynote interview on ‘Reimagining business models and reinvigorating innovation tactics to meet unprecedented sustainability targets by 2030’ at the World Aviation Festival.

In this 10-minute interview, Sean explained the mindset allowing the airport’s remarkable response to COVID-19 as well as the key to the airport’s innovative sustainability solutions.

Casting his mind back to scenario planning, Sean told the interviewer, “We never anticipated this [the pandemic].” Despite not having a crystal ball, the airport had extraordinary foresight. Reflecting on previous dramatic changes to the industry, including 9/11, the conclusion was reached that travel would eventually recover. Holding this view, no staff were laid off or furloughed, small businesses were taken into account, and conversations were had with the airport’s partners. As the industry recovers, DFW have given themselves a head start with their approach during the crisis.

Looking at the airport’s sustainability track record and ambitious future, Sean broke it down simply.

  1. From a practical perspective: It is good business. For further detail on this see the interview with the VP Environmental Affairs & Sustainability at DFW, Robert Horton ‘Sustainability is complimentary to good business.
  2. As a steward: It is the right thing to do.

But importantly, innovation can be also fun. In the interview Sean outlines some of the exciting sustainability initiatives and technology helping the airport on their journey to Net Zero by 2030.

 

 

British Airways launch Amadeus Biometric Solutions to become the first UK airline trialling biometric tech for international flights

British Airways launch Amadeus Biometric Solutions to become the first UK airline trialling biometric tech for international flights

British Airways launch Amadeus Biometric Solutions to become the first UK airline trialling biometric tech for international flights

 

On 15 November, British Airways announced they are the first UK airline to trial the use of biometric technology for international flights. This utilises technology developed by Amadeus and adapted by the British flag carrier.

British Airways became the first UK airline to introduce biometric technology on domestic flights back in 2017. This technology recorded customers’ facial scans at Security and matched it to them once at the boarding gate. The airline continues to pioneer adoption of experience enhancing digital technologies. This 2022 trial marks a significant step in the UK’s journey towards offering a seamless journey to passengers.

David Breeze, Operations Transformation Manager for British Airways said:

“This is a secure and efficient tool that makes for a smarter and smoother airport experience, which will reduce the time it takes for us to board aircraft.”

 

How it works

Using biometric technology, passengers will not have to show their passport. This allows customers to travel ‘smartly’ through the airport.

Passengers involved in the trial will scan their face, passport, and boarding pass on their smartphone or tablet from the comfort of their homes. Once at the airport, Smart Bio-Pod cameras verify the passenger’s identity in approximately 2.5 seconds.

The trial is running for six months on British Airways flights to Malaga, Spain. Depending on the success of the trial, this technology will be extended to more international flights.

The technology can offer passengers an enhanced, seamless travel experience. Additionally, it can reduce queues within the airport, helps board passengers faster, and enables an optimisation of staff throughout the airport.

However, passengers will still be required to show their passport once at the destination airport. This is one of the key issues currently holding back the integration of advanced technologies in the aviation industry. Although technologies can be implemented at a domestic level, it is difficult to have the same technology uniformly in place at the corresponding international destination. Taking into account the holistic passenger journey, an entirely seamless journey is therefore difficult to create.

Not everyone is welcoming technology in airports with open arms. Read ‘What do passengers really think about AI and technology’ to find out more.

British Airways have been in the news lately with their carbon offsetting initiative, read here.

The topic of biometrics will be explored in detail at the upcoming Aviation Festival Asia in 2023. A CEO panel featuring Bangalore International Airport CEO will explore ‘the future of seamless travel through effective digitalisation and biometric technology.’

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Schiphol Presentation: Sharing data to improve the passenger experience

Schiphol Presentation: Sharing data to improve the passenger experience

Schiphol Presentation: Sharing data to improve the passenger experience

 

At last month’s World Aviation Festival, Tor Boe-Lillegraven, Chief Data Officer, Royal Schiphol Group gave a ten-minute presentation on data.

In current times, data is everything. Within aviation it has become fundamental to optimising operations and as the industry continues to digitise, more and more data is produced. It is well known that this data is important to the industry, but why?

This short presentation offers a helpful overview of data in airports as well as an insight into how data is used in Schiphol specifically.

The Royal Schiphol Group Chief Data Officer explained where airports get their rich data sources from, the benefits of looking at data more like a tech company, and how to solve challenges through data.

Importantly, Tor highlighted how strategic data themes can retain their use even in the face of vast changes. The challenges that the Royal Schiphol Group identified pre-covid are still being used in their strategy in the wake of the pandemic.

Watch the ten-minute presentation below to find out more.

 

 

The technology at Noida International Airport (NIA)

The technology at Noida International Airport (NIA)

The technology at Noida International Airport (NIA)

 

It has recently been confirmed by Christoph Schnellmann, CEO, YIAPL that the construction of Noida International Airport (NIA) is on course to be ready by the end of 2024. The new airport covers over 1,300 hectares of land in Uttar Pradesh, India and promises to have the capacity to serve an estimated 12 million passengers a year in the first phase.

The airport intends to establish itself as the logistics gateway of northern India and establish Uttar Pradesh on the global logistics map.

Schnellmann was quoted by news agency ANI:

“The airport will be an airport the region can be proud of bringing the world to the western UP and bringing western UP to the world stimulating development, infrastructure development, economic growth, and creating jobs for the region.”

The airport combines Swiss quality and efficiency with Indian warmth in hospitality.

Revealing some of the technology initiatives at the new airport, the airport’s Twitter announced use of:

  • Paperless and touchless parking
  • Biometrics via face recognition
  • Check-in, ordering meals via your smartphone
  • Virtual queues for security screening
  • Reduced emissions through predictive building management

Discussing the sustainability aspect of the airport, Schnellmann reported, “the airport will operate sustainably by minimising carbon dioxide and other emissions.” To read more on sustainability at India’s airports read Mumbai International Airport Becomes Another of India’s 100% Green Energy Airports.

In a press release in June this year, there was an emphasis on the airport’s seamless, contactless flow through the airport. This experience is offered through integrated systems, services, and the use of technologies such as indoor navigation, passenger flow management, and data analytics to offer passengers “the highest levels of convenience […] at a truly modern, efficient, and customer-friendly airport.”

Ensuring seamless connectivity when entering and leaving NIA, the airport will also develop a Ground Transportation Centre that will feature a multimodal transit hub, housing metro and high-speed rail stations, taxi, bus services and private parking.

If you are interesting in learning more about NIA’s technology, Anurag Shandilya, Head of Operations at NIA will be speaking at Aviation Festival Asia in 2023. The Head of Operations will give a presentation on ‘Building India’s largest airport which places passengers and a digitalisation experience at the centre of its ethos’ and speak on a panel exploring ‘The role of digital transformation in ramping up airport operations in Asia’s post-pandemic recovery era.’

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

The new(?) business traveller

The new(?) business traveller

The new(?) business traveller

 

The business traveller matters to the aviation industry.

Pre-pandemic, the business traveller made up approximately 12 per-cent of airline passengers but up to 75 per-cent of revenues on flights. When purchasing, they are famously less price sensitive than leisure customers. As an article in Forbes said:

“When a company is buying the ticket, all of a sudden a nonstop flight at the right time and in a premium seat all matter much more than the price.”

Avid users of airline loyalty programmes, bigger budgets, and reliable – the aviation industry thrived on business travellers.

But recent studies are suggesting up to 40 per-cent of airline business travel may not return after the pandemic. It is therefore important for the industry to understand who is taking their place.

 

The “bleisure” traveller

Blending business and leisure, the bleisure traveller appears to be the covid-catalysed evolution of the business traveller. But who, or what, are they?

At its most basic level, a bleisure traveller is a person whose travel mixes business and leisure. These passengers often extend the duration of their trip to incorporate more time for leisure activities whether this be at the start or end of the trip.

Since the pandemic-fuelled shift away from a 9-5 office-based structure, bleisure travel has rapidly increased. Hybrid or remote work lends itself to this blended type of travel, making it easier for employees go out earlier, or stay on from a business trip. Employees may also decide to stay abroad between two trips, taking their work from home equipment to the destination.

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) ran a survey investigating the popularity of bleisure post-pandemic. The response found 90 per-cent of employees are more or equally as interested in bleisure travel compared to before the pandemic. As a growing market, and with the traditional business traveller looking unlikely to make a full recovery, it is important for the industry to understand the needs of this “new” traveller.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Three landmark SAF deals in two weeks

Three landmark SAF deals in two weeks

Three landmark SAF deals in two weeks

 

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is set to play a big part in the decarbonisation of the aviation industry. Through reducing emissions by up to 80 per-cent, the greener alternative to conventional jet fuel features in many airlines’ sustainability blueprint.

In the last few weeks, there have been several noteworthy headlines from around the world regarding SAF. Here are three of them.

 

The largest: Air France-KLM

On 25 October, Neste signed one of the largest SAF agreements in the aviation industry with Air France-KLM Group. Neste is a Finland-based, oil refining and marketing company producing Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel. It is currently the world’s leading producer of SAFs. The deal was for the supply of over 1,000,000 tons of their SAF over eight years commencing in 2023. Neste and the Air France-KLM Group were already cooperating but this extensive deal marks a new strategic partnership for curbing the Group’s carbon emissions.

Thorsten Lange, EVP Renewable Aviation at Neste said:

“As the world’s leading producer of SAF, we are helping the aviation industry to work towards a more sustainable future, already today. This long-term collaboration with Air France-KLM shows how we are working together in a number of areas. By the end of next year, Neste will have an annual SAF production capacity of 1.5 million tons, ready to support the Air France-KLM Group and other airlines in Europe and across the globe”

 

The first in a region: Qatar Airways

Also on 25 October, Qatar Airways became the first airline in the Middle East and Africa region to announce its commitment for an international SAF offtake agreement. The deal is with SAF producer Gevo for 25 million US gallons of neat SAF across a period of five years. This partnership symbolises a commitment to Qatar Airways’, along with other oneworld Alliance members, plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker, CEO Qatar Airways Group highlighted the achievement for the region:

“Qatar Airways continues to prioritse our commitment to net-zero flying by the middle of this century. Decarbonising aviation requires a gradual incorporation of lower carbon and SAF, and we are proud to collaborate on this global effort for a better future.”

 

The start of a project:  Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT)

On 1 November, ITOCHU Corporation was selected for a SAF demonstration project by the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). The project will see ITOCHU import Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel at the start of 2023 to blend it with conventional jet fuels for use in Chubu Centrair International Airport. The project aims to refine the process of blending imported neat SAF locally in preparation for scaling up the use of SAF in the aviation industry.

For more article on SAF read Korean Air to Use Shell’s SAF From 2026 and TUI and Cepsa Announce SAF Partnership

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Sheikh Aimen Al Hosni, CEO Oman Airports – Keynote interview “how can innovation open the door to positive change, business revolution, and further growth?”

Sheikh Aimen Al Hosni, CEO Oman Airports – Keynote interview “how can innovation open the door to positive change, business revolution, and further growth?”

Sheikh Aimen Al Hosni, CEO Oman Airports – Keynote interview “how can innovation open the door to positive change, business revolution, and further growth?”

 

Sheikh Aimen Al Hosni, CEO Oman Airports explains how incorporating technology and human touch into operations got Oman Airports from 97th to 16th best airport in the world.

The Oman Airports CEO explores the intersect between human touch and technology to improve airport processes inline with customer expectations. One example given is the way that staff respond to customer feedback touchpoints distributed through the airport. These provide live feedback allowing staff to actively and immediately respond.

Another initiative explored is the “youth board” of gen-Z employees. Sheikh Aimen Al Hosni describes the ways this “youth board” influences the airport through introducing innovative, technology driven ideas. It also ensures the airport actively incorporates the expectations of the largest generation on Earth.

 

 

Hey Airline Exec – Put your bum in my seat!

Hey Airline Exec – Put your bum in my seat!

 Hey Airline Exec – Put your bum in my seat!

 

There is a lot of talk about customer experience, customer centricity, net promotor scores and the like amongst the airlines. Seemingly more now than ever before. But where and when does customer centricity come into play? And more crucially, why is it not working – or at least, not the way the customer feels it should?

 

What is Customer Experience?

To get us all on the same page, we should define what we mean by the term “customer experience”. Basically, we are talking about how an airline engages with customers in any form – through personal contacts at a counter or on board a flight, through digital means such as an airline website or mobile app, through visual means such as airport signage and onboard materials or through communication such as emails, phone calls, chats, and others.

A good customer experience instils trust, is easy and quick, provides clarity, and focuses on the customer’s need and should be (where possible and feasible), in the customer’s interest even if that clashes with the airline’s. Now, that doesn’t mean that a good customer experience results in an airline always giving in, but it does mean the airline finds a solution.

Also, what may be perceived as a great customer experience for me because it is all digital and self-service does not mean it is a good customer experience for my grandmother.

 

The Journey

Let’s start with the customer journey to get a better understanding of where and when the customer experience really comes into play. This is fairly simple: the experience encompasses everything from the first interaction with an airline until well after any trip I take. That was easy, wasn’t it? Well, perhaps we can break it down a bit more to get a little more insight.

First, let’s consider the inspiration phase where the airline is sending promotional mails, or a customer is hunting for prices and destinations on an airline website. In this phase, the airline should focus on an initial understanding of the customer – who is asking, and why? Sometimes the airline will know quite a bit about certain customers, in others they know very little. In such cases, creating a meaningful mail or putting the right products and destinations on the website can be done by applying segmentation and sampling logic.

During the shopping phase, very much like in the inspiration, the airline may or may not know the customer. However, the contents of the shopping request and the meta-information related to the request (e.g., what time and which weekday was it made, which channel etc.) can help in figuring out the intent of the customer and give some context. And in the cases a customer is known, previous behaviour and purchases (or the lack thereof) can help.

In the pre-travel phase, which are the days and hours leading up to the event and can be somewhat emotional, and stressful, for many who do not travel often, some guidance can help. While many airlines send emails, these are seldom helpful or focused on a specific customer or journey. But hey, it really isn’t that hard to get the context and content right. I don’t need the weather for 10 days if my return flight is two days later. Or instead of a generic, text-only email which is nearly two pages long, how about a mail which is simple to understand, focused on my journey and my travel class, and has links if I need to know more? Has anyone ever asked the customers what they want to know?

At the airport, the biggest challenges are often the signage, and the lack of control over many processes such as security and managing crowds. However, where an airline should be able to take influence is in their staff, or the representation through the ground handlers. The often-heard stories of customers who know more about flight delays than staff should be long gone and shows the lack of a communication strategy within the airline. Better pre-flight information via email or the app can help and simplifying the search for relevant information through enhanced chat and FAQs would serve customers well.

Each flight experience and airline is different. In flight, there are of course many aspects of customer experience we could talk about, from levels of service to staff friendliness and onboard facilities, however this would be enough to cover a blog post itself. Most airlines do a really good job and hats off to them.

Perhaps one of the biggest areas in which improvements can be made is when the need for changing travel plans arises, be that willingly or not. Or, when during a journey, unexpected things happen – because they inevitably do. How do we communicate and interact with the customer? How much information do we share? Can we be proactive in suggesting smart alternatives and solutions?

After the journey, a simple follow-up mail with a thank you would work wonders. I have rarely received one. And when things didn’t go to plan, how about an apology mail? I have never received one of those either. I don’t expect more – I don’t need miles or vouchers – at least not if the disruption wasn’t drastic. But not receiving a “thank you” or “we’re sorry” basically shows that for the airline, the journey is somewhat “fire and forget”. Does the airline even know or care how my journey went?

 

Well heck, why doesn’t it work?

I have a theory. and will turn this theory into a call to action. First and foremost, I wonder how many C-Level airline executives, VPs and directors actually travel, well, like travellers would travel. In my experience, none. They have staff tickets and people who book for them. They never follow the customer’s path. When missing a flight, they can easily no-show, knowing they can go-show on the next flight. Sure, they sometimes have to deal with being a “passenger available for disembarkation”, however they can also get insight into booking figures or call duty travel to rearrange flights, often with other airlines with no cost to the “customer” at all. Why don’t designated decision makers search, book, rebook and travel like the 99% of people sitting on their aircraft? Why don’t they use the apps to check-in or try to change their bookings like a consumer would? That could result in some eye-openers, I’m certain. Most likely it would also lead to a better understanding of the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Oh wait, you don’t measure that? Or you do, but don’t analyse the results and take action?

Surveys such as NPS are a great means to understanding satisfaction. However, it is not enough to conduct a survey. Two airlines we have worked with over the past years had task forces in place to evaluate NPS surveys and create action plans for improvement. These were very structured processes, with a dedicated team and empowerment to influence the different departments in the airline to constantly improve customer service. The issues, actions and improvements were presented twice a month at executive level, with buy-in from all departments within the airline. In both cases, NPS scores increased, and while the increases were only marginal in the first six months, they grew considerably faster once the improvement team and the processes were established and the first “quick wins” identified and implemented.

We suggest that airlines start doing two things if you do not already:

  • Make sure that decision makers can travel like customers a few times each year. Make them book online or via the app – or even with a travel agency. Travel like the masses – don’t call in for privileges, sit in the back, book non-flex tickets.
  • Measure and act and get help doing so if necessary.

Why are we asking you to do this? Well, as an industry, we have moved so far towards this vision of retailing and customer centricity. All the talk is about systems and technology, about retailing and customer data, about segmentation and creating personalised offers. That is all great, and we share the vision here at Travel in Motion. However, there is more to it than a vision of airline retailing with offers and orders, or other buzzwords like NDC, ONE Order, Dynamic Offers, Continuous Pricing and what have you. At the end of the day, the customer has to be happy.

 


Article by Daniel Friedli, Travel in Motion GmbH

 

Interview with Robert Horton, DFW Airport – “Sustainability is complimentary to good business”

Interview with Robert Horton, DFW Airport – “Sustainability is complimentary to good business”

Interview with Robert Horton, DFW Airport – “Sustainability is complimentary to good business”

 

Robert Horton, Vice President, Environmental and Social Affairs DFW International Airport joined us at this year’s World Aviation Festival to discuss sustainability and aviation.

Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), the fourth largest airport in the world by passenger number has consistently been at the cutting edge of aviation’s environmental technology. Beginning their sustainability journey 16 years ago, DFW was named the first carbon neutral airport in North America by 2016. Always striving to improve, the airport has set itself a new, ambitious target: net-zero by 2030. This is 20 years ahead of the United Nations’ target.

Exploring the compatibility between sustainable objectives and airport operations, the interview covers the role technology plays at DFW in minimising aviation’s environmental impact, DFW’s ambitions for the coming year, and the challenges and lessons learned so far.

Throughout the course of the interview, details on some specific applications of exciting technologies utilised in the airport are explored. This includes the airport’s use of digital twin technology, which Robert describes as “a catalyst that will propel us into the future.” The benefits of electrochromic coated glass (dynamic glass) are also explored, understanding the role that it plays in conserving energy in the airport.

Discussing the details of the sustainability orientated technology at DFW provided a useful insight into the practical applications and benefits of these technologies. However, the strongest take-away from the conversation was: sustainability and good business do not have to sit in tension with one another. To the contrary, when applied correctly they can be complimentary.

The DFW 2021 Environmental, Social and Governance Report identifies Climate Action and Energy Performance as two of the airport’s guiding North Stars. The compatibility of these two goals is outlined in the report,

“Smart technology, real-time energy monitoring and data management, and modelling and simulation tools can help optimize operations to eliminate inefficiencies and maximise performance.”

Through optimising across airport functions, energy and economic cost can be reduced.

 

The message that sustainability and good business are complimentary resonates in the current climate. Emerging from a global pandemic, industry players may not feel they have cash to spare and perceive it as a choice between investing in the business and mediating environmental impact. In contrast to this, Robert highlights that the shift towards sustainable operations provides an opportunity to improve economic performance through conserving energy and optimising usage.

For our latest article on sustainability and airports read Christchurch and Hamburg airports’ partnership. 18,5000km apart by side-by-side tackling climate change and Mumbai International Airport becomes another of India’s 100% green energy airports.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Accessibility technology for visually impaired passengers

Accessibility technology for visually impaired passengers

Accessibility technology for visually impaired passengers

There are a variety of new, exciting technologies being introduced to help passengers navigate airports with ease. This has seen the introduction of augmented reality, hi-tech screens, and many apps. These help to reduce bottlenecks, promote retail at the airport, and assist with navigation. One important area that technology can make a significant difference, is in assisting passengers who are visually impaired.

For passengers with a range of disabilities, flying is not a straightforward process. While there is much progress to be made in improving accessibility across the passenger journey, one area that technology is already revolutionising airport navigation is for blind and visually impaired passengers.

On Global Accessibility Awareness Day in May, the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) became the first airport in the US to offer passengers GoodMaps Explore, a navigational tool for blind and visually impaired passengers.

The technology is built into an app which provides highly detailed information to passengers as they navigate around the airport. The app identifies bathrooms, food retail, outlets, water points, and charging stations whilst they move around the airport. The app uses LiDAR mapping technology and camera-based positioning to create detailed digital maps of the space. The technology provides accurate and precise location information including distances.

Dan Mann, Executive Director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority said:

“This is about providing a best-in-class experience for all our travellers […] We are proud to be the community’s gateway, providing a warm welcome and a less stressful environment that enhances the ease of going from the gate to baggage claim and on to the final destination.”

Paul Ferrara, a passenger at SDF, has been blind since birth. Ferrara used the app to navigate the airport describing how important it was to have:

“Better ability to go into an unfamiliar place or a semi-familiar place and navigate without another person and that’s extremely important. There’s just not always people around. Sometimes you have to do things on your own.”

With technology transforming the aviation experience in all areas, it is important to ensure the industry continues to innovate to find ways to improve the experience for everyone.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

The importance of apps

The importance of apps

The importance of apps

 

IT consulting firm Applause recently conducted a global survey on travel and hospitality apps. The survey showed that 92 per-cent of respondents had at least one travel or hospitality app on their mobile. However, it also revealed that 27 per-cent thought the apps had been unhelpful in managing recent travel challenges.

Further problems identified with the apps were:

  • Being unable to find the information they were looking for (18 per-cent)
  • Very slow response times (13 per-cent)
  • Localisation problems (12 per-cent)
  • Difficulty using payment sources (11 per-cent)

It is important for the industry to address the problems with their apps. Here’s a reminder of why they are so important.

 

Increase ancillary revenue

Apps provide the perfect opportunity for generating revenue outside of ticket sales. The app provides an access point through which to sell more products and services at all stages of the customer lifecycle. These ancillaries could include parking, lounge, fast track, duty-free, or food and drink.

 

Self-service

Self-service has become a large part of the airport journey. The most popular iteration of this is check-in. More and more passengers opt to check-in off-airport and even baggage drop is becoming self-service in some airports, see Alaska’s electronic bag tags  and Efficient technology at Changi Airport. Apps can play a significant role in facilitating this transition towards self-service throughout the airport journey, giving passengers more autonomy and simultaneously helping to bridge staffing gaps.

 

Shape the customer journey with real-time information

Through giving the customer relevant, real-time information the customer journey can be enhanced. This is a topic that was touched on in an interview with IBM’s Dee Waddell, see here for his insight. Through real time information, customers can enjoy a convenient prompt or respond quickly to any changes in their journey.

 

Personalisation

Apps are a useful way for airports or airlines to personalise their approach towards the individual user. Previous transactions and behaviours can be used to suggest new actions for the user. This can create an enhanced overall experience for the customer as well as the potential to increase revenue for the industry.

 

Gather data and gain feedback

Through tracking how a customer uses the app, more can be understood about who the passenger is and what they value. The customer’s various products, services, destinations, and spending patterns will be accessible and can be used to develop loyalty.

Apps also provide a convenient way for passengers to provide feedback on their journey. This is a useful tool from which airlines and airports can adapt to increase passenger satisfaction.

 

Loyalty

Having a loyalty programme that can be integrated onto an app gives customers a convenient way to check on their points and claim the rewards. They can also be a helpful way to remind customers about rewards or incentives to keep customers engaged.

Additionally, this can be utilised by airports for wayfinding and optimising retail opportunities. Fore example, alert passengers on the length of the security queue or which restaurants have space free.

Apps are everywhere. They benefit the users and have the potential to significantly benefit airlines and airports too. While surveys are still showing customer dissatisfaction with travel apps, this presents an opportunity for brand differentiation.

For articles on one of the most prolific apps in the aviation industry, the airasia Super App, have a look at AirAsia introduce holidays to their Super App and AirAsia announce partnership with 12Go. AirAsia will be at the upcoming Aviation Festival Asia.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Belfast Airport trial service robots

Belfast Airport trial service robots

Belfast Airport trial service robots

 

Belfast Airport are the latest to add robots to their customer service repertoire. The airport announced they will be trialling robot service technology to enhance colleague and customer experience.

Although the use of robots in airports is becoming increasingly common, see article on Kasai Airports, this is the first trial of its kind in partnership with contract foodservice company SSP UK.

 

What can passengers expect to see?

The trial will begin with six service robots this month at the Sip & Stone Restaurant and Bar. The service robots will help servers with their day-to-day tasks. There will be two types of robots: the ‘BellaBot’ and the ‘HolaBot’

The ‘BellaBot’ – The ‘BellaBot’ will bring food and drinks from the kitchen. This robot is equipped with a voice and screen system and can interact with customers.

The ‘HolaBot’ – Is designed to be called remotely by colleagues to clear any section of the restaurant.

The trial is designed to enhance overall customer experience by freeing up front of house employees. This will enable employees to deliver an enhanced service to customers. With current staffing level problems across the entire industry, technology has an important role to play in bridging the gaps. Technology, such as robots, can alleviate some of the workload thereby helping the staffing level issues.

SSP UK & Ireland CEO, Richard Lewis said:

“The nature of our business means we serve a lot of customers, and we need to serve them quickly. These robots will enable our colleagues to spend more time front of house with our customers, ultimately improving their experience at our restaurants. We also want our customers to enjoy a unique, original experience.”

In addition to easing the workload, it will add some excitement into airport retail for the customers. Brian Carlin, Director of Commercial Development at Belfast International Airport explained:

“This trial will allow customers to experience the latest technology that hospitality has to offer. The robots will deliver a faster service as well an enhanced cleaning, which will work hand in hand to improve the overall dining experience.”

For more information see here.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Christchurch and Hamburg airports’ partnership. 18,500km apart but side-by-side tackling climate change

Christchurch and Hamburg airports’ partnership. 18,500km apart but side-by-side tackling climate change

Christchurch and Hamburg airports’ partnership. 18,500km apart but side-by-side tackling climate change

 

On 18 October, Christchurch Airport in New Zealand and Hamburg Airport in Germany announced their official new partnership in sustainable airport operations.

Both airports have separately taken a strong stance on environmental operations at their respective ends of the globe. However, they will now tackle the issue together with a particular focus on the future of green hydrogen.

 

The partnership

The two airports are partnering on infrastructure for the use of green hydrogen in aviation. Combining their years of sustainability research and execution, the pair will work closely together with the twin goals: eliminating carbon dioxide emissions and taking a pioneering role for net-zero aviation in their country.

Each airport has a particular focus on the use of green hydrogen in their operations. This ranges from hydrogen powered vehicles to hydrogen-based aircraft propulsion systems. The airports seek to set up a hydrogen infrastructure and with this, identify a solution to the problems with hydrogen storage.

Additionally, opportunities to further reduce CO2 emissions throughout the airports will be capitalised upon. This will be supplemented with the use of renewable energy including that from Christchurch Airport’s own solar energy park.

Discussing the partnership, Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO Hamburg Airport said:

“We stand by our responsibility: sustainable airport operation with renewable energies is a building rock for climate protection in air transport […] We are all the more pleased to have gained an experienced partner in Christchurch Airport. On an international level, we can bundle our know-how to work towards CO2-free airport operations and a future with sustainably operated aircraft.”

Malcom Johns, Chief Executive of Christchurch Airport highlighted the necessity for these partnerships in the pursuit of the climate agenda:

“We are both openly ambitious in supporting aviation to decarbonise […] We realise this will take partnerships like ours to do this. We have enjoyed monthly online meetings with Hamburg Airport team members for some time now, sharing information and knowledge while discussing and supporting each other’s goals and achievements. It is time now to set ourselves some more joint goals.”

 

The early partnership

Before the official partnership was announced, the two airports were working closely with regards to the application of hydrogen to airport operations. This was an area that Hamburg Airport had already established themselves as a leader in the field.

 

Christchurch Airport

2020 – The airport was recognised in 2020 as the world’s first airport to achieve Airport Carbon Accreditation Level 4. It mentors air-transport hubs globally including JFK, Perth and Brisbane Airports, and Bristol on the reduction of carbon emissions

2021 – In December the airport announced the Kowhai Park project. This sought to become New Zealand’s largest solar energy park. It is located on the airport premises and comprises 400 hectares.

2022 – The airport went a step beyond carbon neutral to becoming climate positive. This takes the airport beyond net-zero emissions and actually creates environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

 

Hamburg Airport

Hamburg Airport was the first major commercial airport in Germany to achieve CO2 neutral operations. This was the product of tireless optimisation of the airport’s building infrastructure to save emissions through the reduction of energy consumption. Among many other initiatives, the airport created an underground thermolabyrinth, naturally pre-heating or pre-cooling air from outside and feeding it into the air-conditioning systems.

For more information on the Christchurch, Hamburg airports collaboration read here. For other articles exploring how airports are using innovative methods to reduce their environmental impact see Mumbai International Airport Becomes Another of India’s 100% Green Energy Airports, Efficient Technology at Terminal 4 Changi Airport , The IAP “Developing a Sustainable Air Hub in Singapore” Blueprint

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

A brief overview of the Asia-Pacific region’s return to travel

A brief overview of the Asia-Pacific region’s return to travel

A brief overview of the Asia-Pacific region’s return to travel

 

After years of COVID-19 travel restrictions, Japan has reopened their borders and reinstated visa-free travel to many countries. The Asia-Pacific COVID-19 restrictions were some of the toughest in the world and although China persists with strict quarantine policies, much of the region has now opened back up.

 

On track for a quick recovery?

In August, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) published a report ‘Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2022: Global Trends.’ This report forecast that the Asia-Pacific region’s travel industry would be the fastest to fully recover from the pandemic.

The report highlighted that when looking at Travel & Tourism’s contribution to the region’s GDP, Asia-Pacific is forecast to be the first to revert to 2019 levels, achieving this by 2023. All other regions are estimated to recover completely later in 2024. The Asia-Pacific region’s swift predicted recovery is attributed to the forecast resurgence in the arrivals of international visitors in Malaysia, Japan, and Australia. However, the 2023 recovery trajectory “could be jeopardised if large source markets such as China and Japan continue to impose restrictions to international travel.” The reopening of Japan’s borders alongside Malaysia and Australia suggests the Asia-Pacific region could be on the encouraging recovering trajectory as put forward by the WTTC.

 

The changed landscape of Asia-Pacific travel

  • In 2021, North America overtook Asia-Pacific as the largest region of world passenger traffic. However, in 2022 the Asia-Pacific region will see approximately 430 million more fights than in 2021 as the world continued to open up.
  • The nature of business travel has been greatly transformed in the region. Long-haul business travel is up over 11 per-cent since 2019 and domestic travel for business is up 40 per-cent since 2019. However, medium-haul business travel is down 11 per-cent, and short-haul business travel is down 45 per-cent.
  • Leisure travel is on the rise. Domestic leisure flights are up 196 per-cent. Long-haul international leisure flights are up 19 per-cent, and medium-haul international leisure flights are up 17 per-cent.
  • Intra-Asia travel is up. In August, Expedia’s research showed that 6 of the 10 source markets for South-East Asian destinations were from Asia. Additionally, Japan’s cities of Tokyo, Osako, and Hokkaido were already trending in searched for the year-end holidays even before Japan had set a date for their borders reopening. The research points towards strong intra-Asia travel.

The global pandemic was undeniably transformative. As travel ramps back up, it is interesting to see the ways travel patterns have evolved and the ways this will impact loyalty, retail, distribution, and much more.

Aviation Festival Asia will be taking place on 28 February – 1 March 2023 and will explore the difficulties and opportunities of the aviation landscape in the Asia-Pacific region.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Fraport and Lufthansa’s new joint venture, “FraAlliance”

Fraport and Lufthansa’s new joint venture, “FraAlliance”

Fraport and Lufthansa’s new joint venture, “FraAlliance”

 

The new joint venture between Fraport AG and Lufthansa has been announced, “FraAlliance.” Each company holds a 50 per-cent share and the venture seeks to strength cooperation on strategic and operational matters at Frankfurt Airport.

Jens Ritter, CEO Lufthansa Airlines said:

“We want to offer our customers a reliable, punctual, and first-rate travel experience. The joint venture will allow us to place stronger and more targeted emphasis on the projects required to realize these aims. The new partnership at our Frankfurt hub will deliver significant added value for our customers by implementing innovative, future-focused measures.”

 

Fraport

Fraport, or Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide, is a German transport company operating Frankfurt Airport. Fraport is a leading player in the global airport business and offers a wide range of operational and management solutions. Lufthansa and Fraport already have a long-standing partnership aiming to enhance services at Frankfurt Airport’s Terminal 1.

Pierre Dominique Prümm, Fraport’s Executive Director Aviation and Infrastructure explained:

“With this joint venture, we’re creating a highly responsive and effective team that can pursue areas of mutual interests and to continue improving passenger services. It’s an important signal for the medium and long-term prospects of Frankfurt Airport.”

 

FraAlliance

The joint venture seeks to improve aspects relating to business development and operations, customer experience, infrastructure, intermodality, and sustainability. Improvements are to be achieved by analysing and optimising processes in terminal operations, as well as by taking a joint, customer-focused approach to product development. The goal is to bring about a journey-wide enhancement of processes and product offerings for flights, whilst boosting the competitiveness of the airport.

 

Improvements in the airport

One outcome will be the real-time updates for aviation security checkpoints in the Lufthansa App. This allows Lufthansa passengers to see checkpoint waiting times in Frankfurt through the app, enabling passengers to alter their timings when planning their journey to and through the airport. This should in turn enhance the operations within the airport, improving passenger flow, and reducing security bottlenecks.

The improvement of passenger flow within the airport is a significant area of improvement that the joint venture addresses. Passenger flow has been analysed and optimised by removing duplicate security checks. This expects to reduce transfer times for up to a million passengers per year.

Earlier this year, Fraport was announced as the first fully integrated partner of Lufthansa’s ‘Miles & More’ loyalty programme at Frankfurt Airport. The pair have been working together to enhance retail and loyalty in the airport to improve passenger experience.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

A nostalgic, passenger experience enhancing initiative – Ontario International Airport

A nostalgic, passenger experience enhancing initiative – Ontario International Airport

A nostalgic, passenger experience enhancing initiative – Ontario International Airport

 

Ontario International Airport has announced it will be allowing non-flyers to access the post-security side of the passenger terminal. This programme is called ONT+ and all it requires is an online pass.

The ONT+ Visitor Pass will allow the general public to spend time with friends and family at the gate or shop and dine at the airport.

 

The process

The process is simple. It is possible to apply for a visitor pass the day of the visit or up to seven days in advance.

  1. Provide date of birth, gender, and full legal name.
  2. Wait for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approval. For same day entrance this will be within fifteen minutes. For an advanced application this will be after midnight on the day of your visit.
  3. The ONT+ Visitor Pass will be sent via e-mail.
  4. Show your online pass at the TSA Checkpoint.

Visitors will be subject to the same security regulations as passengers to ensure safety is not compromised with the new initiative.

 

The benefits to the airport

Customer experience

The ONT+ Visitor Pass has the potential to significantly enhance passenger experience at the airport. In response to 9/11, airport security was dramatically increased and the entire airport experience shifted to ensure maximum safety as the priority. Speaking about the ONT+ Visitor Pass, Dean Brown ONT Public Safety Administrator said:

“We all remember the excitement of being able to meet arriving family and friends as they get off the plane. ONT+ is a way to bring back some of that pre-9/11 experience, in a safe and secure manner.”

In addition to greeting a loved one at the gate, the pass will enable friends and family to stay with a passenger all the way to their departure gate. The difference this could make to passenger experience at the airport cannot be understated. Alan D. Wapner, President of the Ontario International Airport Authority Board of Commissioners advertised this:

“ONT+ is another example of how Ontario International is always at the forefront of amenities and services that can enhance the customer experience.”

Where airports work hard to ensure passenger comfort and enjoyment throughout the airport experience, giving passengers the opportunity have to a loved one by their side could improve the experience no-end.

Retail

In addition to the emotional benefits this can offer passengers, the pass could translate into a direct increase in retail sales at the airport. Airport retail has suffered significantly from the pandemic. One research report predicted that even by 2025, passenger spending in airports will be at less than 80 per-cent of 2019 levels.

Although the increase in footfall may not necessarily translate into more spending on retail inside the airport, it has the potential to inject more money into shopping and dining. The pass is deliberately available to members of the public regardless of whether they are meeting a passenger. This gives the public the opportunity to enjoy the shopping and dining options which the airport has heavily invested in. For a different look at airport retail read here.

The pass is both novel and nostalgic and has the potential to significantly enhance passenger experience as well as rejuvenate airport retail.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow