At the 2nd Global Airport Leaders’ Forum (GALF), co-located with the 14th Airport Show at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC), aviation experts discussed the seamless experience and excellence playing the determinant factors in the success of airports.
The session speakers were Thani Abdulla Alzaffin, Director General and Board Member of emaratech, Hans Joachim Klohs, Vice President of Central Infrastructure, Traffic and Operational Planning at Munich Airport, Luca Merando, Head of Airport Industry Division at SELEX ES Italy, Dr.Andreas Wittmer, Managing Director of Centre for Aviation Competence at the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland, and Duncan Alexander, Director of West Asia at Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).
They discussed issues related to the success of a number of countries that have excelled in airport management and development, as well as other issues ranging from privatization to generating additional revenue streams and reducing operating costs and betterment of passenger facilitation. While the panelists agreed that these airports have made it to this high level of excellence due to a variety of factors including long term planning, commitment to customer services and passenger facilitation, they felt that many other airports need to emulate them.
Dr. Andreas Wittmer said that there should be good integration between the airport and airlines management. But it seems difficult to achieve, which is reflected in ground handling of passengers. “In most of the cases, customers are taken for granted,” he said.
Luca Merando opined that all the technology partners need to play an important role. He said that today a number of partners are working together, yet passengers’ experience is difficult to understand and meet the capacity target, mainly because they forget the real target – that is the passenger.
Thani Abdulla Al Zaffin echoed the opinion and stressed on the need of changing the mindset of the ground staff, right from security to immigration, to the airlines support staff. “People like to use the latest technology, but they first have to change the mindset,” he said. Talking about the phenomenal growth of Smart Gates used by passengers to pass through immigration gates at Dubai airports without being attended manually, he said, “We need to educate the passengers to reach the goal. It should not be annoying for them.”
Hans-Joachim Klohs recounted the success story of Munich airport and pointed out that passengers remain at the centre of their attention. “Passengers are customers of the airlines as well as the airports, thus there should be joint operation to ensure customer satisfaction,” he added.