New industry study calls for a fundamental rethink of the airport ecosystem
Amadeus, a travel technology partner and transaction processor for the global travel and tourism industry, unveiled a new study 'Reinventing the Airport Ecosystem', which identifies consumer frustrations with today's airport experience and maps the way airports will re-invent themselves up to 2025 with new operating models to drive revenues beyond the traditional aviation income.
The analysis looks ahead to travel 20 years from now to paint a realistic picture of how emerging technologies and social trends will lead to new operating models that re-invent the traveller experience.
The study looked at how regionally, the vast growth potential in the Middle East in general and the GCC states in particular is massive. Gulf countries are channelling billions of dollars into airport expansions, betting on a sharp rise in passenger traffic and competing to strengthen their positions as regional hubs for global travel. Eventually, it is inevitable for the ever-expanding Middle Eastern airports to rethink their ecosystem and ensure the quality of passenger handling cater to his or her overall ease of traveling, ensuring a stress-free travel experience. Whichever model these airports adopt, new technology marks the progression towards an intelligent, data-intensive, knowledge-rich, convenient, adaptive and responsive airport environment that will greatly benefit travellers in the region.
According to industry projections, between Dubai International and Al Maktoum International, the emirate's second airport that is planned to be the world's largest, Dubai Airports expects to handle around 98.5 million passengers in 2020. Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi airports will reach a combined annual capacity of 190 million passengers by 2015; Emirates, Qatar and Etihad will have the capacity to carry 200 million passengers in 2020 while aircraft movements in Dubai is estimated to increase to 560,000 by 2020.
The capacity of King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, which is currently undergoing a massive expansion, will be increased to 80 million passengers in 20 years, while Kuwait’s government will spend US$6 billion to almost double the number of its international airport passengers by the end of 2016 and perhaps expand to 25 million passengers by 2025 and 50 million people by 2035.
Antoine Medawar, vice-president, Middle East and North Africa, Amadeus, said: “As travel continues to evolve, we will endure over the next 20 years, major changes across the entire industry. We are on the verge of a true convergence of technologies in travel that will drive the need for a fundamental rethink of the airport ecosystem in the Middle East.”
He continued: “Imagine an airport where the retail experience is so impressive you choose to shop there without even flying; or using an in-flight app to make purchases you can pick up once you have landed. It is an exciting future but airports, airlines and the whole eco-system need to make co-operative decisions to unlock this potential.”
The research identified ‘a stress-free airport experience’ as the number one priority for travellers, with a clear 72% of global respondents saying they thought the core passenger journey from check-in to boarding was currently inefficient. Furthermore, 69% travellers are seeking improved security processes. Furthermore, 81% passengers also expect airports to offer a sense of place that reflects local culture and makes the airport destination and flight, part of their total trip experience.
Travellers view technology as increasingly important to their airport experience. Many want to control their entire airport journey through the use of mobile phones to navigate through key touch points (63%), use frequent flyer cards as permanent boarding passes (59%), benefit from permanent electronic bag tags (57%), and automation of the full range of airport processes including baggage drop (48%).
Social media is also seen as a vital tool for the real-time exchange of ideas, information and feedback with travellers while at the airport. Consumers want their improvement ideas to be heard (69%), receive important information (66%), provide real-time feedback (53%) and be rewarded as frequent travellers/shoppers (51%).
‘Reinventing the Airport Ecosystem’ has been developed through primary field research and supplemented with over 70 qualitative interviews with industry experts from airports, airlines and suppliers including technology providers and airport designers. These interviews were subsequently tested using a global passenger survey of 838 respondents from a range of markets around the globe including Europe, North America and Asia.